Four cartoon superheroes and their dog help citizens fight real-world fraud through the Little Black Book of Scams.
The colourful booklet, produced by Competition Bureau Canada aims to make readers aware of the myriad ways scammers will try to separate you from your hard earned cash. The easy-to-read book’s overarching message is fraudsters are real, you’re a target, but there are effective steps to protect yourself.
Subscription traps are the first fraud they cover. Products are offered as part of a free-trial, but as soon as you provide your credit card details, you are unknowingly locked into a costly monthly subscription.
From malicious computer viruses to digging through someone’s trash, Identity theft scammers can steal your personal details and do a lot of damage. The guide warns that with stolen bank data and signatures they can empty bank accounts, obtain passports and apply for loans in your name.
For employees working in corporate environments the CEO scam is a worrying crime, where “senior managers” trick you into wiring money to a third party. Sometimes fraudsters play departments off against each other, convincing accounting departments to pay non-existent invoices supposedly from other departments.
“Watch out for magical cures that offer quick and easy fixes,” advises the guide in the Health and Medical Scams section. The three most common approaches to preying on people’s health needs or insecurities are miracle cures, weight loss programs and fake online pharmacies. Sponsored social media posts add authenticity to the con.
In Romance Scams, often a fake profile will be created on a dating site with good looking pictures attached. After you strike up a friendship and rapport, the person will ask for money, which disappears, as quickly as their profile, once it leaves your bank account. Catfishing is a darker scheme, where, often after weeks of grooming, people are encouraged to send nude photos of themselves to a potential beau, only to then be blackmailed over the revealing pictures.
Be aware of all the scams! The Little Black Book of Scams is a resource that lists the main ways fraudsters try to grab your $$$ pic.twitter.com/fEMdGKc5XJ
— Nick Murray (@nickmurraymedia) June 18, 2019
Phishing, is a well know scam using fake websites or computer viruses but has now evolved into Smishing, where the same thing happens but now through texts.
The guide ends with a dirty trick played on grandparents, where a “grandchild” calls and urgently requests money. Due to the compelling story, Grammy and Gramps quickly stump up the money for junior, who then disappears.
The guide is keen to show there is no shame in being tricked, and talking about your experience could help stop fraudsters preying on others.
Const. Meighan de Pass of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP advises citizens to question unexpected requests, remain unmoved by urgent demands and to contact police the minute they are suspicious. Neighbours checking-in on isolated or elderly people is another helpful activity.
“Frauds in Sidney/North Saanich continue unabated and, despite awareness, we still have people being victimized by those that build trust and then capitalize on people at vulnerable moments,” she said.
The RCMP detachment have free booklets, resources and offer a fraud prevention presentation. The booklet can be downloaded from competitionbureau.gc.ca.