Canadians lost nearly $100 million dollars to scams last year, according to the Competition Bureau Canada.

In a news release issued Friday, to mark Fraud Prevention Month, the agency noted the figure only accounts for the roughly five per cent of cases that are reported to police.

These are the top ten scans Canadians fell victim to:

Romance Scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) estimates that nearly 30 percent of online dating profiles are fake. The agency notes that romance scams affect more Canadians than any other scam, and the rates are rising. The scams themselves are also evolving, turing the victims into “money mules” used to transfer money, stolen goods, and drugs, among other things.

Advice from the BBB:

  • Always question who is at the other end of the conversation and their intentions with you.
  • Never send money to someone you’ve never met or share personal and financial information on dating sites.
  • If they seem way too eager from the onset, that’s a red flag.

Income Tax Extortion Scams

Many Canadians are familiar with the threatening phone calls, where agents claim to be Canada Revenue Agents and demand payment. These threats can also come in the form or texts, letters or emails. Despite the widespread awareness, the BBB says people in this country lost more than $6 million to the scam.

Advice from the BBB:

  • Canadian government agencies, including CRA, do not accept payment in Bitcoin or through gift cards.
  • They also do not make threatening phone calls or solicit personal and financial information over the phone or through emails.

Online Purchase Scams

This kind of scam appears to be on the decline. In 2017, Canadians lost more than $13 million dollars to fraudulent online purchases. This year, although that number has significantly declined, Canadians still lost more than $3.5 million to the scam.

Advice from the BBB:

  • If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Always shop on legitimate websites and never wire money to someone you don’t know.
  • Also, use your credit card for online purchases, only use secure payment portals and frequently check your credit card statements.

Employment Scams

Canadians lost nearly $5 million to employment scams in 2018. The Better Business Bureau notes that its gets harder to crack down, because some scammers are operating through reputable services like Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn. Victims tend to be people who are in sometimes-disenfranchised groups, like students, immigrants, ex-convicts or seniors.

Advice from the BBB:

• If you didn’t apply for a job, you didn’t get hired for one.

• No reputable company is going to ask you to cash a cheque and demand you send money back to the company or other ‘employees’.


‘Phishing’ can be a broad term, but generally refers to scammers who are not what they seem to be.

Advice from the BBB:

  • Always remember that you should never share personal information or click on links in an unfamiliar email. If you have doubts about an email claiming to be from a business you are dealing with, contact them directly to confirm the information.

Subscription Scams

If you’re browsing online and notice an ad for a skincare cream or weight loss pill, it could be a subscription scam. Sometimes the scammers will use a fake celebrity endorsement or offer other incorrect perks. Ultimately, the victim could be left with large monthly bills with hidden conditions.

Advice from the BBB:

  • Any health claims, for instance - guaranteed weight loss, needs to be backed up by hard science. There must be clinical trials validating the claims made in the ad for the product.
  • Consumption of untested substances could prove potentially dangerous to consumers.
  • Be on the lookout for fabricated scientific reports as well.

Advance Fee Loans

In Canada, lenders cannot ask for an advance fee before giving a loan. Scammers who perpetrate this kind of fraud usually prey on people in financial need or those who don’t qualify for traditional loans. Ultimately, the victim may end up forking up a fee and never actually receive a loan.

Advice from the BBB:

  • If you require a loan, and the business asks for fees upfront, or if they offer guaranteed approval without credit checks, just walk away.

Tech Support Scams

With computer viruses and malware becoming an ever-present threat, many people fall into the trap of a tech support scam. These scammers will reach out to people, pretending to represent reputable tech companies, like Apple and Microsoft, and offer support. These scammers will ultimately end up taking money for services that are “unnecessary or even harmful.”

Advice from the BBB:

  • Never give control of your computer to another person unless you know it is the representative of a computer support team that YOU have contacted.
  • Another important point to remember is that legitimate tech support companies do not call out of the blue.

Home Improvement Scams

The Better Business Bureau calls this “one of the oldest scams out there.” Scammers will usually offer homeowners reno projects for a good price, take the money, and then either do a bad job, an incomplete job or no job at all.

Advice from the BBB:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers and say NO to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments and deals without a contract.
  • Always go to to research trustworthy companies and to see what other customers have experienced while doing business with a company you may be considering to employ.
  • Extra due diligence could save you alot in the end

Bank Investigator Scams

With bank investigator scams, the BBB notes, scammers usually call victims early in the morning, pretending to be bank representatives who have information on fraudulent activity conducted on the victim’s account. These scammers then convince their victims, who may be sleeply or disoriented at the time, to hand over personal financial information.

Advice from the BBB:

  • Be wary of early morning phone calls from someone claiming to be a bank representative, law enforcement officer or an investigator.
  • Banks do not ask clients to participate in investigations or to transfer funds to another account for safekeeping.