Senior woman giving credit card details on the phone. © Can Stock Photo / daisydaisySenior woman giving credit card details on the phone. © Can Stock Photo / daisydaisy

2021 historic year for scams, according to provincial police

Just as the Ontario Provincial Police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre kick off Fraud Prevention Month, they've released figures that show the toll scams are taking.

It is estimated only five per cent of victims actually report fraud to law enforcement, but losses last year still totalled $379-million. That's a huge leap from 2020 when $164-million in losses were reported.

Ontario residents lost the lion's share of last year's total, $142-million.

"Fraud is an insidious crime," said OPP Director of Financial Crime Services, Detective Superintendent Dominic Chong. "These crimes are often devastating for to the victims and their families. I encourage everyone who has been a victim of fraud to report it to the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Victims of fraud are victims of crime. The shame should be placed on the criminals."

Should you fall victim to a scam or know someone who has, report it to your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online.

Just about all scams increased substantially in 2021. A total of $163-million was lost to investment fraud, up from $33-million in 2020. Fraudulent cryptocurrency payments jumped to $77-million from $23-million. Spear-fishing frauds represented $53-million in losses, compared to $30-million the year before. Financial loss from extortion climbed to $17-million from $16.4-million, and service scams represented $11.6-million in losses.

Reports of phishing and identity theft jumped from 6,953 in 2020 to 7,566.

This month, police will focus on impersonation scams. Often suspects will pose as a trusted friend or loved one to steal the victim's money or personal information.

The OPP will post live fraud chats, videos, tips, and links on social media to prevent more victims.

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