Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre works on improving phone scam awareness

Alert police when you get a call from a scam artist who has attempted to defraud you, RCMP say.
Scams change every day and the only way for police to keep track of them and keep their statistics accurate is for everyone to call.
However, it’s impossible for police to stop the scams as they’re always changing, and the thieves are often overseas, said Sherry MacDougall, senior communications adviser with the P.E.I. RCMP.
“We can’t just flip that switch off.”
Instead, they work on making the public aware of what to do when you get one of those calls. Hang up and don’t acknowledge them, she said.
“Don’t provide info to anyone you don’t trust.”
Yet, the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC)’s reports show a total loss of $110 million to mass marketing fraud in 2017.
The statistics vary depending on the demographic but it’s hard to tell the severity of the calls when it’s believe that fewer than five per cent of victims file a report.
In particular, victims of romance fraud are embarrassed that they’ve been mislead into giving away thousands of dollars to someone they were in love with, said Jessica Gunson, the acting call centre and intake unit manager for the CAFC.
Typically, the victim meets the scam artist on a dating website. They make the victim fall in love with them and promise they will soon meet. Then, at the last minute they claim there has been an emergency and ask for money, said Gunson.
“Scammers are amazing at making it feel real.”
In 2017, only 54 complaints of romance fraud were made with a total loss of over $400,000. With this type of fraud being under-reported because of embarrassment, the CAFC can’t be sure how many happen, she said.
“We need to stomp out that stigma.”
With this being tax season, the CAFC has had a surge in complaints about a new scam pretending to be the CRA.
Gunson said you always need to keep in mind who you could be talking to.
“You never know who’s on the other end.”
CAFC’s motto is ‘Recognize. Reject. Report.’ Gunson urges anyone who gets a scam call to tell everyone they know.
“You could be preventing victims from losing their life savings.”


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