These Are The Biggest Scams In Canadian History

These Are The Biggest Scams In Canadian History

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated August 30, 2021

There are always scammers in the woodworks, lurking among unsuspecting and particularly vulnerable Canadians who may not have their guard up or are a bit too trusting for their own good. And while there are seemingly endless scams out there, right now the most prevalent tend to involve online-based scams.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, 42,176 Canadians had been a victim of fraud in 2020 and had lost 106 million. Your best bet is to be armed with information about the existence of these scams and know what to watch for in order to protect yourself from being taken advantage of. That’s the purpose of this article, so be sure to heed this advice to avoid being another statistic.

Biggest Scams In Canadian History

According to the 2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, these are the biggest scams in Canada as of 2019.  

Travel Scams

Some scammers will advertise great deals on travel, luring people looking for a low price on a holiday. They may even advertise low prices on timeshare opportunities. 

Victims may then may be asked to wire money to the “travel experts”, only to see their money gone without an actual vacation to enjoy. Or they may be asked to send money upfront to cover the cost of administrative fees. 

In Canada, travel scams are quite popular. About 2.7% of people are exposed, and over 62% of those exposed to these scams lose approximately $5,000.

Tips To Avoid Travel Scams

  • Be skeptical of ultra-low price sun vacations.
  • Watch out for unsolicited emails and messages. 
  • Do your research and verify the authenticity of the provider. You can do so by checking company reviews and if its BBB accredited.
  • Never wire money; pay with credit card instead

Advance Fee Loan Scams

Advance fee loan scams often target people with bad credit or who are unable to get approved for a loan with a regular bank. These scammers typically advertise online or may even contact the target demographic via text, email or phone. 

They will pose as lenders and tell the victims that they’ve been pre-approved for a loan, however, they will need to pay a “processing” or “administrative” or “application” fee first before the funds are advanced to them. Unfortunately, as a person with bad credit and limited choices, the deal may seem too good to pass up and end up paying the fee. 

Once you pay, your money will disappear along with the scammer.

About 6.5% of people are exposed to advance fee loan scams, and 71.1% of them are susceptible to losing money. The median amount of money lost is $1,450. 

Tips To Avoid Advance Fee Loan Scams

  • Verify the background of the “lender”. You can find out if a lender is legitimate by checking their online reviews, their BBB accreditations, and their social media presence. Another trick to verifying the legitimacy of your lender is by checking the location of the company. Some scammers will use a random residential, warehouse or an empty area as their address.  
  • Be wary of lenders who claim to “guarantee” approval. Legitimate lenders will all have some sort of underwriting process, and will never guarantee approval. 
  • Never make any upfront payments for insurance or processing fees. In Canada, it is illegal for a lender to charge any fees before funding the loan. 
Lookout Watch Out For Hidden Fees In Personal Loan Contracts

Loans Canada Lookout

LOOKING OUT FOR YOUR BEST INTEREST

Romance Scams

Romance scammers make up fake profiles on dating sites and try to or contact people they’re targeting through their online profiles on social media. The goal is to develop a relationship of some sort so the victim eventually comes to trust the scammer and even fall in love with them. 

The scammer will eventually convince the victim to send them money for various reasons, citing sob stories, such as family emergencies. They may even say they need the money to travel to where the victim is in order for them to meet, which never ends up happening. 

About 1.9% of people are exposed to romance scams, and 48.2% of them lose a median of $4,000. 

Tips To Avoid Romance Scams

  • If you’ve neer met the person, look out for sad stories, especially if the person asks for money to help. 
  • Never give out your personal information, such as your address, credit card, banking info, passwords, no matter how much you trust them. 
  • Be wary of people who say they live in another country and make up excuses for being unable to meet you.

Employment Scams

Jobs are typically advertised online, in newspapers, and even on the radio or TV. But in the midst of these legitimate job offers are scams. These people are targeting folks to steal their personal information and money after promising a job. 

One way that these scammers funnel money away from unsuspecting job seekers is by forwarding a cheque with a major overpayment and ask that you pay back the excess money to them. Unfortunately, the cheque is fake, so you’ll be left with less money than when you first started. Other scammers may also claim that you need to pay them for a background check before they can hire you. 

About 16.3% of people are exposed to employment scams, and 10.2% of them lose a median of $1,550. 

Tips To Avoid Employment Scams

  • Research the employer that has contacted you. Check their social medium online reviews, their BBB accreditation to verify if the company is legitimate. Be sure to also verify if the person claiming to be the hiring agent is legitimate as well. 
  • Don’t accept any unsolicited job offers that you did not apply for. 
  • Understand that no legitimate firm will ever ask for money to be forwarded for any reason. 
  • Know that overpayment of cheques, especially with a significant overpayment amount, should never happen from a reputable company. 

Here Are Some Reputable Job Boards To Help You Find A Job

JobboomLearn More
MonsterLearn More
Canadian Job BankLearn More
JoobleLearn More
IndeedLearn More
LinkedInLearn More

Cryptocurrency Scams

Some scammers look for ways to steal people’s money through cryptocurrency. These types of scams can take many forms. 

For instance, you may be asked to pay for something upfront using cryptocurrency and never get your end of the bargain. You may also be lured into an attractive cryptocurrency investment, but wind up losing your crypto or even having cyber scammers hack your account.

Since cryptocurrency is exchanged directly between peers with no intermediary like a bank, there is no one to help if you have a problem. About 2.1% of people are exposed to cryptocurrency scams in Canada, and 48.3% of them are susceptible to losing money. The median amount of money lost through these scams is $3,617. 

Tips To Avoid Cryptocurrency Scams

  • Understand how these digital assets work
  • Look into the exchange site or person you plan to do business with
  • Understand the risks involved in dealing with cryptocurrency
  • Be wary of the guarantee to make money or see big payouts
  • Avoid anyone without details or explanations of the investment

Online Purchases

Online purchases continue to be a popular target for scammers looking to steal money from people. Scams under this umbrella are quite diverse and can include things like fake e-commerce websites, free trial scams, and counterfeit goods.

About 2.3% of people are exposed to online purchase scams, and 85.9% of them lose a median of $102. 

Tips To Avoid Online Purchase Scams

  • Only shop on with companies you know are legitimate. If you find an online shop you’ve never heard about, look online to see to verify its authenticity. You can look at online reviews, the BBB, social media and other platforms like Reddit and Quora to see what people are saying about it.  
  • Always use reputable payment platforms. 
  • Never wire money to anyone.
  • Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true

What Should You Do If You’ve Been A Victim Of A Scam? 

If you’ve been a victim of any one of these scams, it’s important you take appropriate action to mitigate any further damage to your finances. Here are some steps you can take: 

  1. Collect Your Proof – print or save a copy of all receipts, documents and messages that can prove you’ve been scammed and how. This will help when you report the fraud to the appropriate authorities. 
  2. Contact Your Bank – While banks can do very little if you’ve wired the money to the fraudster, they can help flag all your accounts if you’ve given any of your banking information. You can also change all your passwords and pins as an extra layer of protection. 
  3. Contact The Credit Bureaus – If you’ve given any personal information that can lead to identity theft, it’s best to contact both the credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your file. This will help alert you and identify any suspicious activity. 
  4. Report The Incident With The Police – Report the scam to the police and take note of the file number for future reference. If any additional damage is caused to you, be sure to contact the police to update your file. 
  5. Spread The News – Report the fraudulent activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, this will help them track these scams and take down any ads or emails sent by them. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your personal information and your money, always be extra protective. Don’t be too trusting of anyone, even if they seem legit at first. Always do as much homework as you can, and get up-to-speed on the types of scams that are being done.


Rating of 5/5 based on 2 votes.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

Click on the star to rate it!

How useful was this post?

Research & Compare

Canada's Loan Comparison Platform

Largest Lender Network In Canada

Save time and money with Loans Canada. Research and compare lenders before you apply. Share your experiences with Canada's top lenders.

Make Smarter Borrowing Decisions

Whether you have good credit or poor credit, building financial awareness is the best way to save. Find tips, guides and tools to make better financial decisions.

Save With Loans Canada

Special Offers

Build Credit With Refresh Financial

Build Credit With Refresh Financial
Popular

Build credit while spending money with the Refresh Financial VISA card.

View Offer
Build Credit For $7/Month

Build Credit For $7/Month
Popular

With KOHO’s prepaid VISA card you can build a better credit score for just $7/month.

View Offer
Make No Payments Until 2022

Make No Payments Until 2022
Ends Soon

Borrow up to $50,000 from our partner, Fairstone, and don’t pay until 2022*

View Offer
Industry Spotlight

What's happening with Canada's credit industry?

goPeer — Helping Consumers Achieve Financial Freedom by Connecting Canadians Looking For Financing With Canadians Looking to Invest

goPeer — Helping Consumers Achieve Financial Freedom by Connecting Canadians Looking For Financing With Canadians Looking to Invest

goPeer is Canada's first consumer peer to peer lending platform and connects creditworthy Canadians looking for a loan with everyday Canadians looking...

Read Post
Locator
Find The Best Rate
In Your Region
OR
Best Personal Loan Provider by Greedy Rates
Icon

Confidential & risk-free

All consultations and conversations with Loans Canada and its partners are confidential and risk-free. Speak with a trusted specialist today and see how we can help you achieve your financial goals faster. Loans Canada and its partners will never ask you for an upfront fee, deposit or insurance payments on a loan. Loans Canada is not a mortgage broker and does not arrange mortgage loans or any other type of financial service.

When you apply for a Loans Canada service, our website simply refers your request to qualified third party providers who can assist you with your search. Loans Canada may receive compensation from the offers shown on its website.

Only provide your information to trusted sources and be aware of online phishing scams and the risks associated with them, including identity theft and financial loss. Nothing on this website constitutes professional and/or financial advice.

Your data is protected and your connection is encrypted.

Loans Canada Services Are 100% Free. Disclaimer

Keep Track Of Your Credit Score

Subscribe with Credit Verify to monitor your credit rating and get your free credit score.