We live in a busy world with the increasing stress of overwork, concerns for our children’s fiscal and career futures, ageing parents, and our retirement, ageing and health concerns. Others are dealing with grief over a family death. Stress weakens our ability to discern who is honest. Parasitic fraudsters prey on the susceptible: our elders, digitally naive, the disabled or ill, and bereaved.
When we have fewer emotional challenges, preoccupations and mental clutter we’re more actively aware of our surroundings…will be attuned to sights, sounds and other sensory input that can alert us to con artists’ attempts to hijack our emotions, our valuables and our dreams.1
Fraudsters target the vulnerable. A wealthy writer, Jude Devereaux, was victimized by a fortune-teller con artist who fleeced her out of $20 million by preying on her fears in her turbulent marriage, and then the decease of her son.1
Intrafamily Financial Exploitation Fraud Magazine reported that many scammed victims need professional care for everyday living and health problems, either in-home or in an assisted living facility; or experience memory loss or other cognitive dysfunction. Sadly, children and relatives have fraudulently stolen their parents’, grandparents’, siblings’ and aunt or uncles’ savings. Most had financial powers of attorney, having control over the victim’s finances; or executorship over estates.
Telephone fraud Financial institutions; or the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA); or a Canadian immigration official won’t telephone you to scare you into collecting money or payments. They may sometimes contact you by telephone to get more information to continue processing an application, or to ask for more documents but will never ask you for any payment by phone.
- Fraudsters can use telephone scams to steal your money or identity, which is why you need to take strict measures to keep your information confidential.
Be very careful of scams asking for details like your credit card, bank account numbers, or any other payment information. If you get a suspicious call, hang up right away and contact your local police to report it. You may also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Email fraud You may get an email that looks like it’s from a real company, bank or the Government of Canada. It may ask you for private information, such as your date of birth, passwords or credit card details. Sometimes the email will tell you to visit a fake website. Some people get emails offering exclusive immigration deals if you give them personal information.
- The Canadian government notes that they will never send you an email asking for your private information. If you get this kind of email, do not click on any links or give any information about yourself. These things may mean an email is a scam:
- The email is sent from a private address or a free webmail address (e.g., Yahoo Mail, Hotmail or Gmail) and not from the Government of Canada “gc.ca” or “Canada.ca” email account.
- Beware of websites advertised in emails from strangers that you didn’t request.
- If in doubt, contact the website owner by telephone or email before you do anything or call the police.
Real estate fraud Never buy property, especial if foreign, without doing due diligence. A retired lawyer was duped into rushing a wire transfer of $800,000 for a fake California condo sale. The bank is refusing to redeem his loss. 2
Top 2018 scams with Canadian losses:
The Competition Bureau of Canada’s law officer Nicola Pfeifer told CTV Toronto the internet has become “powerful enough that it’s expanding the reach of fraudulent crime well beyond the traditionally vulnerable consumer groups of seniors, children, and new Canadians.” She added because of millennials’ “disproportionate presences online… they’ve become natural targets for fraudsters.” 3
- Romance scams: More than $22.5 million
- Income tax extortion scam: More than $6 million
- Online purchase scams: More than $3.5 million
- Employment scams: More than $4.5 million
- Advance fee loans: Nearly $1 million
- Tech support scams: Nearly $1 million
- Bank investigator scams: More than $2 million 4
1 November/December 2019 – Fraud Magazine
2 CBC News
3 CTV News