TORONTO -- The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has said that an e-mail based scam called “spear phishing” is cheating people of more money than any other scam in Canada.

In a phishing scam, criminals may send the same email to thousands of people hoping a percentage will be fooled and send them money.

A spear phishing attack is more targeted—a request for money or information may be sent to a specific person, organization or business. It was the number one scam in Canada last year with losses of almost $37 million.

“At the end of the day it's the fraudsters that are sending these emails and the person receiving it thinks it's coming from someone you know,” Jeff Thomson, an RCMP officer with the anti-fraud centre, said.

Canadians looking for love online lost $23 million last year in romance scams, the center said.

“They are meeting people looking for love, recently widowed, divorced or people new to online dating,” Thomson said.

Canadians also lost more than $13 million in investments scams and $11 million by extortion, with criminals using ransomware to demand companies pay up or lose valuable data.

“At the end of the day they are just scaring people they are coercing them and making the scams more fearful and saying you need to do this right away or else,” Thomson said.

Service scams cost Canadians more than $8 million, while prize scams almost $4 million and the bank investigator scam about $3.5 million.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns everyone to be vigilant and cautious to not become a victim.

“If you're getting these automated calls and they are urging you to take action we would advise you to hang up and never feel pressured to pay especially in gift cards or Bitcoin” said Thomson.