Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC): Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- What is the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre?
- Does the CAFC investigate?
- Why bother reporting fraud?
- I have been targeted by a scam but did not lose any money, should I still report it?
- I am receiving unwanted phone calls, how do I make them stop?
- Why am I being called by telemarketers if I am on the Do Not Call List?
- I have received a letter advising I won a prize, lottery or sweepstakes for a contest that I didn't enter and there is a cheque enclosed. What do I do?
- Will I ever receive my money back?
- I have received a letter in the mail advising I have successfully qualified for a job as a mystery/secret shopper and there is a cheque enclosed. What do I do?
- Why can't we do a sting operation if I have the suspect's address and I have sent the money electronically?
- I am a victim of fraud, how do I report it?
- I receive a lot of spam e-mail including lottery letters, job offers, phishing attempts and West African letters. Should they be forwarded to the CAFC?
- What is Phishing?
- What is Pharming?
- What is Spoofing?
The CAFC is the central fraud repository in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on fraud schemes, referred to as mass marketing fraud, that target mass victims. Examples include advance fee fraud, job scams, lottery scams, emergency scams, false charities, and identity crime. Complaints are received from Canadian consumers and / or victims and others where there is a connection to Canada.
Although the CAFC is run by law enforcement agencies, we do not conduct investigations. Our Centre gathers information on frauds and criminal organizations; we then analyze it for connections between suspects and between victims, then prepare investigative reports. We provide valuable assistance and intelligence to law enforcement and regulatory agencies in Canada, the United States and abroad to assist them in bringing enforcement action against fraudsters. You will have to contact your local police to file a report if you wish the matter to be investigated. You may not want or need the matter investigated, but filing a report with police will at least provide valuable data to Statistics Canada so that a true picture of the level of fraud in Canada can be seen. Nearly 9 in 10 victims don't report so this makes it difficult for politicians and decision makers to see the true severity of the problem.
Fraud is a global problem and the information you provide may be the key piece to a national or international investigation. Your data may help us identify a new or unique scam early on, and allow law enforcement, the media, businesses and other agencies to activate prevention and awareness measures. One of the Center's key roles is to educate the public about fraudulent schemes. The Center also plays an important role in the collection and dissemination of victim evidence, statistics and documentation, in order to provide investigative assistance to law enforcement agencies. Your information also provides valuable statistical data that assists in educating governments and senior law enforcement officials on the severity of fraud and fraud trends.
Yes. Attempts can often provide investigators with information that will help identify other scams. If you've received a spam email message or a telephone call from a telemarketer that you believe was attempting to commit a fraud, you can report it to the Competition Bureau of Canada (www.competitionbureau.gc.ca)
The CAFC cannot block telephone numbers. We recommend that you ask to be put on the telemarketer's own do not call list. You can also register your number on the Do Not Call List web site at www.dncl.gc.ca or by phone at 1-866-580-3625. If the calls continue, contact your telephone provider directly and file a complaint. You will need the name or number of the organization. Consider subscribing to a call blocking service or add the number to your call block list, if you can program this feature. If the calls are of a harassing or threatening nature report the incident to your local law enforcement.
The DNCL applies nationally but not internationally, it also does not prevent fraudulent telemarketing calls. Criminal organizations do not follow the rules and regulations set by the CRTC. Organizations that you have conducted business with in the past, and, some designated organizations such as charities, political parties and newspapers looking for subscriptions, are authorized under the legislation to contact you. You can visit the CRTC website to learn more about the Do Not Call List at www.dncl.gc.ca.
I have received a letter advising I won a prize, lottery or sweepstakes for a contest that I didn't enter and there is a cheque enclosed. What do I do?
The cheque is not real and should be handed over to your financial institution and the incident should be reported to your local police. Scammers will advise you to deposit the cheque as part payment of your winnings. You may be asked to send a portion of the funds back via a wire transfer service such as Western Union or Money Gram to pay fees such as taxes, duties or administration charges. There are never any fees up front on the promise of a prize, lottery or sweepstakes. The cheque may initially clear your bank; however it can take up to a week for the bank to determine if the cheque is counterfeit. When this happens you will be responsible to pay the bank back any funds the bank provided you when you deposited the cheque. You could be out hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you have lost money to this scam report it to your local police and to us at the CAFC.
Unfortunately when you send money by wire transfer, the criminals can pick it up anywhere. As soon as it's retrieved your money is gone. Criminals circumvent the system by falsifying identification, using runners or other fraudulent means to collect the money, or, even employ a criminal wire transfer agent.
I have received a letter in the mail advising I have successfully qualified for a job as a mystery/secret shopper and there is a cheque enclosed. What do I do?
The cheque is not real and should be handed over to your financial institution and your local police should be advised. Scammers will direct you to deposit the cheque and send a portion of the amount through a wire transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. The cheque may initially clear your bank however this doesn't mean the cheque is genuine. It can take up to a week for the bank to determine if the cheque is counterfeit. When this happens you will be responsible to pay the bank back any funds the bank provided you when you deposited the cheque. You could be out hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you have lost money to this scam report it to your local police and the CAFC.
Why can't we do a sting operation if I have the suspect's address and I have sent the money electronically?
Just because you've sent money to a certain address, it doesn't necessarily mean this is where the money will be collected. The recipient can retrieve the funds from any of the wire transfer company's offices around the world. For example, you may have sent money to an address in Toronto, Ontario, but the money could have been picked up in Vancouver, B.C. Fraudsters rarely use their real name and often list an address or telephone number from your area to give the impression they are local. They also often use internet services that allow them to fake, or "spoof", an e-mail address, name or telephone number in order to trick you into thinking you know who you are dealing with.
The CAFC receives thousands of e-mail complaints every month. If the message is fraud related and not just annoying spam you can forward the message to the CAFC at firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be added to our database to be compared for similarity to other submissions. If the message is confirmed to be connected to mass marketing fraud, the data may be forwarded to the appropriate e-mail service provider for consideration and to determine if the account should be terminated. Whenever possible you should try to forward the complete fraud message with header. After forwarding to the CAFC, we advise consumers to delete any e-mail messages they suspect are fraudulent. Mark the message as spam to prevent receiving further messages from that sender. Doing so also helps e-mail service providers by populating their company database, activating spam filters which ultimately can protect others from receiving similar messages. If you have lost money to this scam report it to your local police and to the CAFC. Retain the original message, as it may be required as evidence if a criminal investigation is conducted and charges are laid.
I receive a lot of spam e-mail including lottery letters, job offers, phishing attempts and West African letters. Should they be forwarded to the CAFC?
Gather all documents and receipts. Start with your local police agency and then contact the CAFC at our toll free number of 1-888-495-8501, between the hours of 8:30am and 4:30pm Eastern Time or visit our "How do I report Fraud?" page.
Phishing is when a fraudster sends out spam messages or draws mass audiences to a website that has been designed to look very similar to a business or website that is reputable or one you normally deal with. The term Phishing is a variation of the word fishing where the scammer is essentially throwing out the bait to see if they can get a fish (you) to take it. The fraudster is generally trying to get you to provide personal or financial details in order to commit Identity Crime. When the fraudster is targeting specific individuals or businesses this is called Spear Phishing. Phishing attempts targeting mobile devices are referred to as Vishing which was derived from combining VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) with Phishing. Phishing attempts using text messaging are referred to as Smishing which is derived from combining SMS (Short Message Service) with Phishing.
Pharming is a term used to describe when a fraudster or hacker redirects traffic from a legitimate website to a fraudulent website without the victim knowing it. The scammer then harvests the data entered by the victim, thus the play on words – farming
Spoofing is using software or some other internet tool that allows the fraudster to mask their real identity by displaying a fake e-mail address, name or telephone number on your computer or telephone. It is meant to both hide who they really are and to trick you into thinking you are either dealing with a reputable business or person but also to give you the impression the call or message is coming from somewhere other than the actual location. Your telephone or Internet service provider have the ability to determine the true IP address or telephone number but they must be informed quickly before this information is overwritten on their database. They will usually only provide this information to law enforcement in the course of an official investigation.
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