Scam artists working hard for our money

Never provide personal information on a computer or a phone

Top 10 lists are usually a cause for celebration; but not in the case of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which last week revealed its list of the top 10 scams of 2015.

There was some good news in the report, which stated Canadians lost some $61 million in scams in 2015, which was down $10 million from 2014.

However, that figure is misleading, as it’s likely only five per cent of what was actually lost, since victims are often too ashamed to come forward.

While the decrease indicates that Canadians are probably becoming better at spotting a scam, scammers are finding new ways to fleece people, including making changes to existing scams.

The Canada Revenue Agency scam is the number 1 scam this year.

Seniors are one of the targeted groups, with both the CRA and lottery scammers going after them.

Both seniors, who have assets and those who are worried about a lack of money for

the future, are vulnerable: the former because they have disposable income, and the latter because they want to provide for their remaining years.

People are encouraged to watch for signs that older family members are being scammed.

Another targeted group is people for whom English is a second language, particularly with the CRA scam. The caller will often threaten them with deportation.

Anyone who has been the victim of a scam, or thinks a family member has been, is encouraged to contact the RCMP. If you think something is a scam, do a Google search.

The top scams of 2015 were:

• Top Extortion Scam: CRA Income Tax scam (loss of $2.9 million)

• Top Heartbreak Scam: Catphishing ($15.6 million)

• Top Prize Scam: Fake lottery scam ($6.5 million)

• Top Financial Scam: Investment fraud ($6 million)

• Top Employment Scam: Secret shopper ($3.9 million)

• Top Subscription Scam: Free trial traps ($2.9 million)

• Top Impostor Scam: Spear phishing ($5.8 million)

• Top Private Sale Scam: Overpayment/refund ($5.3 million)

• Top Emergency Scam: Fake relative needs cash ($1.9 million)

• Top Lending Scam: Advance fee loans ($989,634)