March marks fraud prevention month, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre along with city police in North Bay are launching a month long awareness campaign. It’s so the general public and businesses are aware of various scams.
Authorities hope this initiative will prevent more Canadians from being scammed.
"We've come a long way," said RCMP Intelligence Analyst Jeff Thomson. "Fraud prevention just isn't a one off month for us. It's year round."
Officials say hundreds of Canadians call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre daily, claiming they’re the latest victim of a pesky scam. Last year, the fraud centre recorded 400,000 calls from fraud victims and 70,000 online reports.
"The biggest change I've seen is the use of extortion as a tactic," said Thomson. "When I started here, they were trying to trick individuals with winning prizes or pretending it's the CBSA. Today, it's like you owe taxes, but you're going to be arrested, charged, deported and fined."
The fraud centre estimates scams continue to hit all-time highs in regards to financial loss. Officials say the total amount Canadians lost jumped from $20 million in 2005 to $130 million last year. It's not just every day phone scams that are affecting Canadians, they say fraudsters are getting a lot trickier luring Canadians over the internet.
North Bay Police have been investigating with the fraud centre on numerous types of scams and frauds found in Northern Ontario: including: extortion, phishing, identity theft and romance scams.
"Recently, we had a romance scam involving a local citizen where the citizen was asked to use cryptocurrency as a payment in order to support the person who they're emotionally attached to," said North Bay Police Chief Scott Tod.
This particular scam is still under investigation with various police agencies and the fraud centre is also involved.
"One of the biggest things we're working on in the rejection side is getting people to talk to other people about it," said Thomson.
Fraud centre authorities say it's important to stop and think before you fall victim to a scam. But if you do think you've been scammed, don't be ashamed to report it right away.