Fraud types


There are many known scams, pitches and fraud types, including variations thereof, with new ones invented daily. Browse this section for a list and description of common ones. Also refer to the Little Black Book of Scams for further tips.

900 numbers

The consumer is encouraged, either via a letter by mail or email, to call a 1-900 number in order to claim some type of prize.

Advance payment scams

When a fraudster requests an upfront payment for the promise of goods, services and/or financial gains and never delivers on their promise.

Card crimes

Organized criminals have the technology which allows them to "skim" the data contained on magnetic stripes, manufacture phony cards, and overcome such protective features as holograms.

Counterfeit products and cheques

Fraudsters have become proficient in producing web sites, email, goods and fraudulent cheques that have the same look and feel as the real item.

False charities

Bogus charities often use names that are very close to the names of legitimate and respected charities. The end of the year is the peak season for charity appeals. It also is the peak season for the bogus charity appeals.

Emergency scams

Though the "Emergency Scam" (or sometimes referred to as the "Grandparent Scam") has been around for years, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns the public to be on alert after noting a marked increase in the number of complaints in the last two months.

Extortion scams

Extortion is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. The extortionist threatens to reveal information that is potentially embarrassing, socially damaging, or incriminating unless their demand is met.

Identify theft and identity fraud

Identity theft is the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone's personal information. Identity fraud is the actual use of the information (living or dead) in connection with various frauds.

Investment scams

Victims are persuaded to invest money in shares or other investments that are either worthless or non-existent.

Money mules

A money mule is a term used to describe an individual who is recruited by scammers to serve as an intermediary to transfer stolen funds. The mule may or may not be aware that they are being used.

Overpayment scams

A "seller" receives a counterfeit cheque from a "purchaser" in excess of the amount owed; the "seller" is asked to deposit the cheque and wire the excess funds back; the deposited cheque is subsequently returned as counterfeit and charged back to the "seller's" account.

Phishing scams

The word phishing comes from the analogy that Internet scammers are using email lures to 'fish' for passwords and financial data from the sea of Internet users.

Pyramid scams

Pyramid scams are frauds that are based on recruiting an ever-increasing number of investors. The initial promoters recruit investors who are expected to bring in more investors, who may or may not sell products or distributorships. Recruiting newcomers is more important than selling products.

Romance scams

Any individual with false romantic intentions towards a victim gaines their affection and trust (sometimes with the promise of marriage) and access to the victim's money, bank account, credit cards or in some cases by getting the victims (usually unknowingly) to commit fraud on their behalf.

Supply and directory scams

Every year, thousands of companies get fooled into buying "bargain" photocopier/fax toner, office supplies or directories over the phone. The sales person claims it's a "special offer", or "prices will be going up soon" and you have to buy today.

Tax scams

It is tax time again and fraudsters will use this opportunity to attempt to scam consumers and businesses out of their hard earned money.

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