Last year financial losses from scams and fraud jumped a record-breaking 130 per cent compared to 2020, says the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Reports to the centre showed Canadians lost $379 million in 2021.
Red Deer saw a 39 per cent increase in fraud reports last year. Over the last five years, reports have increased 19 per cent, according to Red Deer RCMP.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said increasingly, and especially over the past two years during the pandemic, many people have turned to online services and devices to carry on with daily activities, and many fraudsters use impersonation tactics to pose as a trusted source to steal money or personal information.
Red Deer RCMP agreed that impersonation is a big problem. Scammers will try to impersonate a family member, the bank or even the police so it’s really important for people to do their own research to verify someone’s identity.
“Fraud is having real impacts on individuals, businesses and organizations. Many don’t think it could happen to them but last year’s jump in reported financial losses demonstrates that that’s not true,” said Chris Lynam, director general of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the RCMP’s National Cybercrime Coordination Unit.
“While law enforcement and partners continue to work to prevent and disrupt fraudsters, we need Canadians to learn how to protect themselves and always report.”
The anti-fraud centre said the top five most reported scams and fraud in 2021 were extortion, phishing, merchandise scams, service scams and vendor fraud.
The scams that resulted in the highest financial loss in 2021 were investment scams, with losses exceeding $113 million. The anti-fraud centre said this was a new trend, with a noticeable increase in cryptocurrency investment scams.
It’s estimated that only five per cent of fraud cases are reported, and March is Fraud Prevention Month to help raise awareness.
Victims of crime a scam, fraud or cybercrime are encouraged to contact their local police. People should also report incidents, whether they are victims or not, to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre via the online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the RCMP’s National Cybercrime Coordination Unit are working together to develop a new national reporting system for individuals, businesses and other organizations to report fraud and cybercrime incidents to law enforcement. The new system is expected to officially launch in 2023-2024.