Stop Fraud – Recognize. Prevent, Report

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Smart Shopper | 34 comments

Stop Fraud

Stop Fraud Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

This post “Stop Fraud” was prompted by a couple of incidents that happened to me recently.

I was having some website issues which somehow seemed to leave me vulnerable to pop-ups. When I signed in to my bank account, there was a pop-up, very professional with the Bank’s logo, asking me to complete a customer service survey. I decided to go ahead and complete the survey – I was then given a choice of FREE products, all I had to do was pay shipping and handling. For that they needed my credit card information, which of course I wasn’t prepared to give them.

That was as far as I went with the survey but I did call the bank’s Head Office to report this, changed my passwords and did a deep virus and malware scan.

The second scam was one we’ve all heard about but this is the first time I actually experienced it. I received an email from someone who had money to invest in our country and wanted to partner with me. I don’t know what the rest of the email said because as soon as I saw that the email was deleted. It should actually have been forwarded to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre but I wasn’t thinking, I just wanted to get rid of it.

The third scam happened a while back via my phone. I received a text message that I had won a $1,000.00 Walmart gift card. The Red Flag here was that I had never entered a contest so failed to see how I could win. I did call our local Walmart to inform them and they were already aware of this scam going on.

Seeing as the scammers are out in force I decided it was time to renew the scam alerts. The only way we’re going to stop fraud is to recognize it and be aware of the latest scams. Scammers approach in different ways: by phone, pop-ups, email, snail mail or door-to-door. There are two things they want – access to your money and/or to your personal information, including your social insurance number. If you don’t know who you’re dealing with, before giving out any information, call one of the numbers at the end of this post to verify the person/business’ identity and legitimacy. 

From the Competition Bureau:

“Fraudsters are professional criminals that know what they are doing. Fraudsters rely on some basic techniques to be successful. These include:

  • developing professional-looking marketing materials;
  • providing believable answers for your tough questions;
  • impersonating government agencies, legitimate businesses, websites, charities, and causes;
  • pretending to be your ordinary supplier;
  • hiding the true details in the fine print;
  • preying on areas of vulnerability, including those needing help with loans or finding employment;
  • asking for fees in advance of promised services;
  • threatening legal action to collect on alleged contracts;
  • falsely claiming affiliation with reliable sources, such as legitimate news sites to support their products or services;
  • and exchanging victim lists with other fraudsters.”


The most popular scam right now has scammers calling by phone impersonating Revenue Canada/Internal Revenue agents. They may tell you that you are getting a refund (of a large amount), all they need is some personal information and your bank account number in order to process it, or, on the flip side, that you owe them a lot of money and you need to pay right now.  They may tell you a warrant for your arrest is being prepared as they speak and will be activated immediately if you fail to pay.

They may give you a phone number or website to ‘confirm’ but ignore that – it just cycles back to them. If you really want to confirm you can call any of the numbers at the end of this post, NEVER use the number or website they provide.

Even if you’re not Canadian it’s well worth reading “Don’t Get Scammed” published by the Canadian Revenue Agency –

There are many scams operating at any one time, too many to list here, but most are listed in a great resource – a booklet called “The Little Black Book of Scams – Your Guide To Protection Against Fraud”. It’s free and loaded with information that has universal application. It’s downloadable as a PDF file and I encourage everyone to either download it or at least view it.$FILE/Little-Black-Book-Scams-e.pdf

CONTENTS Include information about the following scams:

  • Lotteries, sweepstakes and contests
  • Pyramid schemes
  • Money transfer requests
  • Internet scams
  • Mobile phone scams
  • Health and medical scams
  • Emergency scams
  • Dating and romance scams
  • Charity scams
  • Job and employment scams
  • Small business scams
  • Service scams
  • Handy hints to protect yourself
  • Scams and you: What to do if you get scammed!
  • Getting help and reporting a scam

GOLDEN RULES – Knowing and remembering the following golden rules will help you beat the scammers and stop fraud.

  • Always get independent advice if an offer involves money, personal information, time or commitment. Don’t let anyone push you into accepting ‘You must act now”. (As a matter of fact, those words are usually a red flag and should be enough to stop you right there.)
  • There are no guaranteed get-rich-quick schemes— the only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Do not agree to offers or deals right away. If you think you have spotted a great opportunity, insist on time to get independent advice before making a decision.
  • Do not hand over money or personal information, or sign anything until you have done your homework and checked the credentials of the company that you are dealing with.
  • Do not rely on glowing testimonials: find solid evidence of a company’s success.
  • Log directly on to a website that you are interested in rather than clicking on links provided in an email.
  • Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.

Embarrassment at being caught in a scam sometimes stops people from notifying the authorities. Don’t let that happen to you. Thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life are defrauded each year. If you spot a scam or have been scammed, don’t hesitate to call to report it and/or get help.

Canadian Contacts:

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501,

The Competition Bureau 1-800-348-5358

Canadian Revenue Agency 1-800-959-8281

The Better Business Bureau or Your local Police Service.

American Contacts:

Federal Trade Comm (202)326-2222

FBI – (no phone # provided)

Internal Revenue Service – Fraud Hotline 1-800-829-0433 or

The Better Business Bureau or Your Local Police Service.

Scammers are imaginative and manipulative. They know how to push your buttons to produce the response they want. The only way to stop fraud is for you to be alert, giving them no opportunity to push your buttons.

Talk to you again next week,


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  1. I’ve decided to delete such emails and not get involved in phone conversations. I believe that If it’s too good to be true, then it’s fake. Your post is a wake up call to all of us. Thanks Lenie.

    • Hi Bola, it seems a shame that we have to consider scams but the more alert we are to the problem, the greater the chance it won’t increase. But there will always be scammers and lonely vulnerable people for them to prey on. –

  2. This is a truly valuable post, Lenie. Thank you. I’ll add a little that may be obvious to all, or maybe not. I realize that there are the sophisticated crooks who are slick with their emails pretending to be from banks, etc. There are those that are only partly slick though. Spelling mistakes are a dead giveaway, also some e-addresses, links and mismatches.

    A recent one (admittedly, this one wasn’t particularly “slick”) told me: “GET ALL YOUR MEDS DIRECTLY FROM OUR CANADIAN PHARMACY…Order here or copy and paste this url into your browser:” If it’s Canadian, then why does the URL tell me the scam may be from Russia?

    I’ve come across much better examples than the above but I’ve deleted them all.

    A couple of simple tests include googling e-addresses or part of the email with quotation marks around it. Also hovering over links sometimes shows the absurd true address.

    • Ramona, those are great tips, especially hovering over the link. That is something I did not know about. I just received another one, actually it was a follow-up to a previous one. It did not use my name, it was full of spelling mistakes and they wanted to use my blog to promote something (they didn’t say what). One thing you can say for them, they are persistent. Thanks for the tips – they could save a reader some grief.

  3. Lenie, I get “You’ve just won a gift card from so-and-so” emails every single day. I just checked my main Gmail account: sure enough, there’s a “Congrats Apeak! You’ve received a[n] Amazon reward” email sitting in the Spam folder right now as I’m typing this. The first thing you should do when you get this type of email is to take a close look at the email address that sent it. My “Amazon reward” email came from Is that email legit? It ain’t legit.

    • Good morning Andy – Don’t you get tired of all these phony emails? I lived most of my life pre-Internet days when the average person wasn’t bothered by criminals. I love the Internet but that is one thing that drives me crazy – giving all those scammers the opportunity to steal. Wish there was someway the servers could stop them but since there isn’t, I appreciate your advice about checking the email.

  4. Those scams have been around for ages. I always delete those e-mails. I never call the bank or the company because they technically can’t do anything.

  5. I get calls all the time, telling me I won something, and that I was a lucky winner because I went to the next round.
    I just remember the good old days when it was an African princess who needed my bank account to hide funds because her father the king was over thrown.
    Do not be too dismayed by these calls. I work for the state of NY, we have an intensive security for out email, these scams even make it through their restrictions.
    Thanks for sharing this, and I hope it enlightens others not to fall for them.

  6. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way when it comes to Malware-type fraud. I went through a phase where I got a few nasty viruses because I clicked on dialog boxes that said an update was due, but it wasn’t a box that popped up while I was in the program needing an update. I’ve seen so many types of computer scams over the years, and the people who do it just seem to be getting better and better at it.

    • Jeri, I know it’s so easy to get caught and we often take people at their word. The malware type fraud is a great example. When you first start out using the computer you don’t realize just how smart and sneaky those ‘helpful’ people really are. I especially hate the ones where they say they’re a Microsoft partner when Microsoft has nothing to do with them. One thing – the scammers may be getting smarter but so is the average computer user.

  7. Thx for this dynamite post, Lenie. I’ve shared it vicki FB, Twitter and Pinterest. It’s a pity we need this information, but in today’s world … we certainly do!

    • Thanks for sharing this post Doreen. I agree that it’s a shame that we need to be aware of these fraudsters but unfortunately that is the way it is. It really irks me when I read about people being caught by these characters, especially if the victims belong to the vulnerable group. But I guess getting the message out is one way we can try to prevent others from getting caught.

  8. Thank you for this Lenie! I am always getting scam emails etc and these scammers are getting smarter by the day. Thank God I have never fallen for these scams. From bank verification codes to how you won a million pounds in some competition.

    • Hi Chinwe – The scammers are getting smarter but hopefully if we keep spreading the word then their intended victims will also be getting smarter and not quite so ready to be scammed.

  9. There’s no avioding them because they make money even if only 1.0001 fall for their scam. Sometimes they actually make me laugh because I can’t help wondering how stupid they are to believe that I would, for instance, believe I had a relative in an African country and if I just provide the details of my bank account I will inherit him.

    There is a lot of fraud/scams on Linkedin. Mainly fraudsters wanting us to invest in a glamorous project in a developing country that doesn’t exist.

    On Google Plus it’s mainly fraudsters impersonating famous people who are committing crime.

    By the way, would like to add something about what Erica says above. Read about how in some African countries young criminal men target older men in the West. They make them believe they are in touch with a becautiful woman, flatter them and so forth and fairly swiftly the lonely old men are sending money to help the “beautiful young woman” that’s showing an interest in them. Honestly, how can old men, no matter how lonely, believe that a stunning young woman would be nuts about them…..

    • Catarina, I think one of the reasons people get caught by scammers is because they’re lonely and want to believe someone cares. That’s why I find some of these scams so awful – they really do prey on the vulnerable and leave these people worse of than before – lonely and broke.
      You’re right about them making money even if only a small amount fall for the scam. Hopefully by spreading the word we can prevent a few people from getting caught.

      • Lenie, I actually think the worst is what’s done to really old people in real life even in small towns. Criminals ring their doorbells dressed as doctors, carpenters, someone from the electricity company or whatever and get the elder person to let them in. The pensioner is then robbed without knowing it and frequently have their bank accounts emptied. Really old people are also targets at cash points, in shops, in the streets and so forth. It’s not easy for them to run after a young criminal. Having said that I really think by now old people should know not to open the door. Every week they read about what happens to old people who open the door and should know better than to make the same mistake. But it seems they simply can’t adapt to the fact that life has changed since they were young. Gone are the days when you could open when someone rang your door bell.

        • Catarina, that is terrible. I don’t hear to much about that happening here although I’m sure it does. I think for those kind of people that prey on the vulnerable there should be severe consequences,not just a slap on the wrist but real jail time. We tell our kids not to open doors to strangers, I guess we need to take that message to seniors too. Thanks for sharing.

  10. It just breaks my heart when I see a story about someone being taken by one of these scams. My security tools and resources seem to be working pretty well since I can’t remember the last time something questionable made it to my inbox (knock on wood!), but it’s still important to be aware so thanks for this heads-up Lenie!

    • Marquita, I agree that it is really sad how some people, usually the most vulnerable, get caught. I know there are seniors and shut-ins out there who have no one in their lives and a friendly email or phone call means a lot to them, no matter who its from – Those are the victims I get really angry about – they have so little and even that gets taken away from them. Pretty sad if you have to stoop low enough to make a living that way.

  11. I used to work for a high-end dating service and there are so many scammers going after vulnerable divorced and widowed women online. They would fill out a dating profile with us, not knowing you needed a personal interview to join our service. The fake profiles were mostly coming from overseas, but the profiles appeared like they were from the U.S. I started recognizing these fake profiles just from the look of them after a while. The men all made over $100,000 a year on their profile. They were usually widowed with children. They would write things like, “looks don’t matter. I just want a good person to hold hands with and love.”

    I spoke to women when they interviewed for our service who had fallen for these scam profiles in the past. They got to know what they thought was an eligible man online through emails. They grew attached. And then the man would claim his child had an illness and he couldn’t afford the treatment. And the women would wire $1000s of dollars to them. It is so sad but this is a really prevalent scam and women knew on the dating scene need to be very careful, especially if they’re in a place of being emotionally vulnerable.

    • Erica, doesn’t it make you angry how they prey on the lonely? I’ve read about cases such as you’ve described and I think how empty their lives must be to be conned like that. That is so sad because not only do they lose money, often like you said lots of it, but they would also feel betrayed and probably lonelier than before since now they’ve also lost hope. Thanks for sharing the story – maybe it will make someone think twice about supporting that “ill child” or other fabrication.

  12. It’s kind of depressing how many people are on the prowl to cheat others. The one I’ve been getting more frequently is phone calls pretending to offer tech support for some problem. They usually start by introducing themsleves as working with Microsoft or Google. But they of course don’t work for either of those companies so it’s time to hang up right then and there.

    • Ken, That tech support thing is a popular one. My friend’s husband handled that one by pretending to be a cop. In Canada if you let them hang up first, then hit *57, the call gets routed right to the police who can then trace the call, even unavailable name/number. I’m not sure if that is the number you would use in the States but if you get too many of those calls, it’s worth checking.

  13. Your list is very similar to the scams going on in the UK. A few years ago, you only had to be careful of the Nigerian lottery and the health and medical scams but now this list is bigger and you get approached by emails and phone calls. When I get phone calls- I have learnt to behave like a mad women and as soon as they ask me how are you or how has your day been – I start a long story about something not working in the house or I ask them if they could order me a pizza as I had no money….Oh I have fun wasting their time!!

    • Mina, I love your approach and I’m going to have to share it with one of my friends. Her husband received a call about something being wrong with their computer (they don’t have a computer) and he thanked the person calling because he was using the Police Station’s Laptop – could he have the caller’s name so the Chief could get back to him? Next thing – dial tone. But I really love your pizza one and I will definitely remember it and share it with my friend. That’s priceless, you madwoman you. 🙂

  14. Hi Lenie, there is no end to the scams out there today. It’s quite concerning. I’ve known people who were victims of identity theft and it can take years to clear it up and cost a lot of money. My policy is if I don’t know what it is online I don’t open it up (site or email) and if it’s a phone number I don’t know I let it go to voicemail. And always if it sounds to good to be true…. Well you know the rest. Most people aren’t just going to overnight develop a uncle who is the king of Zimbabwe, are they? 🙂

    • Susan, you’re right about the cost of identity theft but I’m sure you would also feel violated. It’s like that email I received from the person wanting to partner with me – first question is why? Since they don’t know me it can’t be for my business sense or my charm LOL. As for the king of Zimbabwe, that one is getting old real fast.

  15. Great advice, Lenie. I will forward this to my cousins in Canada as a reminder. =) Recently, there were spammers calling pretending to be the U.S. government saying the recipient owed money. The U.S. government came out with a campaign saying they NEVER call you about owing money. They always mail a letter. An additional tip is to make sure you know your government agencies phone numbers. Search their site on the web and make sure you know their actual site name and phone number to contact. This way, if you get a letter to can verify it is legitimate. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sabrina, the CRA/IRA is the most popular scam going and it’s successful because it operates on fear. Hard working people who have never been in trouble with the law run scared if they think the revenue agency is after them and then to be threatened with jail really sends them over the edge. That’s why I added the contact information at the end of the post – if anyone uses the number provided by the scammers it just cycles back to them. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Thanks for these scamming tips Lenie.

    We need to be cautious at all times, even when an email appears genuine. Scammers are growing smarter by the minute and we need to keep one step ahead.

    One tip I have is to download the app for your bank rather than using a search engine. Some are bogus sites and look incredibly authentic.

    • Phoenicia, I totally agree that we need to keep one step ahead of the scammers because they are very smart and creative when it comes to fraud. The thing that really bothers me is how they prey on the vulnerable. Thanks for the commment.

  17. The list of fraud and scam contacts is very useful. Nice to see this organized for us in one place. Some scams can be pretty obvious but others not so much – scammers get more and more sophisticated. I attended a workshop recently on cyber security and a point was made that we are our own biggest security risk. We willingly give people information. Scammers prey on our desires to help or to prosper.

    • Donna, isn’t it true that we give away to much info online. It seems that because someone puts something out that, then adds Microsoft, Google or whatever to their add, we think it’s on the up and up. It was like that survey that I started to complete. The Bank logo was perfectly displayed so I felt the bank was behind it – not so. All those logos can be easily copied. Scary huh?

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