3 Scams Fraudsters Return to Again and Again

1 February 2016

As time goes on, technological innovation and societal shifts require identity thieves to come up with new strategies with which to reach their targets. However, despite this consistent change, there are some types of fraud that prove successful time and time again.

While scammers may revise their scripts with each iteration, these three fraud schemes crop up in Canada in some form or another year after year. To help you stay protected, here’s not only what you should watch out for, but also how you can avoid becoming a victim of each of these three scams:

Charity Scams

In a charity scam, fraudsters count on their victims’ generosity, soliciting donations for charities that do not really exist. Charity scammers approach their targets in a variety of ways, making emails, phone calls and even stopping people on the street or visiting them at their homes. Scammers often use names and logos for their “charities” that look very similar to those of real charitable organizations, so never take a familiar logo as evidence that the solicitor means well.

If you have any doubts about the person asking for money, do not give him or her any cash or information about your credit card or bank account — you can always visit the charity’s website or call it directly to verify the source before placing a donation. As always, never offer your financial information over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

Romance Scams

One way scammers try to elicit trust from their victims is to develop a false romantic relationship with them online before requesting financial information or even cash from their targets.

One iteration of this trick occurs when a fraudster connects with his or her victim on a dating site, exchanging several messages before the explaining he or she has a family member or friend suffering from a medical condition or caught in an otherwise desperate situation. Having already convinced the target of his or her romantic intentions, the fraudster then asks for financial assistance, requesting cash or even a wire transfer to help save the friend.

In another, scammers build friendships with their targets before telling them about a large sum of money they would like to share as a gift. In order to receive the gift, however, victims have to provide their bank account numbers or perhaps pay an administrative fee so that the transfer can take place.

To protect yourself, remember to check websites carefully. Scammers sometimes create fake dating sites with which to connect to potential victims, so always review the URL to make sure you are visiting the site you intend to. Even if you meet someone on a legitimate dating site, never give your financial information or send money or gifts to anyone you do not know and trust.

Emergency Scams

The emergency, or “grandparent,” scam plays on senior citizens’ emotions in an attempt to rob them of their money. Typically, scammers will call a grandparent and pose as one of his or her grandchildren. Callers go on to explain that they are in some sort of trouble and need money immediately. They may claim to have been in a car accident, missed a flight home or even been arrested and need bail money. Sometimes there are even two callers involved, one posing as the grandchild and another pretending to be a police officer or lawyer.

Never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust. Even if callers claim to be a loved one, try asking them a few questions only a close family member would know in order to verify they are who they say they are. Even if you don’t end up sending the cash, these calls can also serve as attempts to gather your personal information. During the call, avoid giving out any identifying or personal information until you have confirmed the identity of the caller.

If you believe you have been targeted by one of these scams, report the incident to the following agencies so that they can help protect others from being victimized as well:

Signing up for a credit monitoring service can help you mitigate the effects of credit fraud or identity theft after being targeted by such a scam. To protect your identity, these companies keep an eye on how your personal information is used across various sources, notifying you of certain activity that may indicate fraud.