Here is an alphabetical list of the most common types of scams:

900 Telephone Scams
The victim receives a mail offer that they have won a prize but must call a 1-900 number before a specific date to confirm the win. Time spent on the phone is billed to the phone line at a very high rate, the prize will never appear and the con artist will pocket a portion of the fees billed by the phone company.
Advance Fee Loans
Usually found in print media – a company guarantees a loan to individuals with bad credit or no credit. The catch: there will be an upfront fee prior to obtaining the loan. Please note that each province has a different law governing this type of scam.
Anti-Virus Scam
Telemarketers contact the victims informing them their computer may have been infected by a virus. They get the victim to provide remote access to their computer stating it is for “preventative measures” but they are really downloading information directly from the victims computers.
Benefits Fraud
Fraudsters using fraudulent or stolen documents apply for benefits from various government agencies.  They normally claim that they have no income and that they cannot maintain employment where in actual fact there is no entitlement to any of the benefits. If done in the victim’s name the victim can be held liable until proven that they are in fact victims of identity theft.
Bogus Terminals
Common at outdoor events, this type of fraud targets debit card purchases. You go to a booth and pay for a bottle of water with your debit card, and don’t notice a thing until a few days later your account turns up empty with no trace of the purchase! The merchant didn’t charge you for the water, but copied your debit card and PIN using a bogus terminal.
Bomb Threat
An e-mail is sent out by a fraudster claiming to be a terrorist asking a large sum of money to be wired to them otherwise they will have an explosive device detonated.
Charity Scams
These scams ask for donations to fix a church roof or repair a youth center or build a new wing in a hospital.  Victims believe the charity is recognized by the government (with a “charity number”) and that at the end of the year they will receive a tax receipt for their donation. The funds are really for the fraudster’s personal gain and at the end of the year no tax receipt arrives.
Cheque Overpayment
The victim receiving the cheque is usually owed funds for goods sold (sold personal property for example). The fraudster will provide a personal or corporate cheque in excess of the amount actually owed. The fraudster apologizes for the error and asks the victim to deposit the cheque and wire back the excess funds. The cheque is deemed counterfeit by the bank and the victim is fully charged back for the full amount of the original cheque.
Computer Hacking

Fraudsters will stop at nothing! They’ll even hack their way into your computer if it isn’t properly protected. They’ll install spyware and malware to gain remote access to all the personal information you have stored on your hard drive. From fake websites, to bogus hyperlinks, to email viruses, there are any number of ways for hackers to get the information they’re looking for.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Fraudsters are selling what is supposed to be prescription drugs at a large discount to the victims but the pills are substituted with readily available counterfeit pills. This can be a lethal cost saving measure.

Counterfeiting of Consumer Goods

Fraudsters are selling merchandise at significant discounts to retail prices on genuine goods (popular purse, boot or clothing brands for example) and substituting counterfeit or virtually worthless items to pocket the difference. An example of this type of scam is known to include fraudulent “anti-aging” products: The items are mail ordered in exchange for credit card information or other forms of payment but the items are worthless or never arrive. Not only are the purchases counterfeit, but the fraudsters also get your banking information to commit other scams. You’ve been had not once, but twice!

Credit Card Fraud

Fraudsters will use duped employees at merchant location to copy the magnetic strip information from a credit or debit card to later create a functioning copy of the card to make fraudulent purchases. The technique has been refined over the years and scammers no longer need an insider to set things up and so they often go ahead unbeknownst to the business owner. This may also occur when using an outdoor payment terminal like a parking meter or a vending machine.

Credit Repair Businesses

The victim is asked to pay a fee for a lower rate credit card when in actual fact the victim can obtain this service for free by contacting their credit card issuer.

Dead Air Calls

The phone rings but no one is there when it is answered. A telemarketer will use this information to ascertain when someone is home to establish habitation timings. Dead air calls are also used by thieves wanting to know when you are not home so they can break in and steal from you.

Door to Door/Travelling Salesmen Frauds

The fraudster will hire young students or person in desperate need of work who believe their new company to be legitimate and honest. The sales person goes door to door representing themselves as “authorized” dealers (they even have phone identification badges) for the utility company sent to help lower your energy usage, by the city to provide you with cleaner drinking water or reduce your cost of electricity or gas.  You are asked to sign a contract and provide a credit card number.

Emergency Funds Please or Grandparent Scams

Typically a grandparent receives a call from the fraudster claiming to be their grandchild or a friend of the grandchild asking for money after being in an accident or saying they are trapped in a foreign country and need emergency funds wired to them immediately. Of course they ask not to tell mom or dad… The sweet grandma or grandpa who wants to help her grandchild falls for the scam and sends the money to the imposter, who walks away with the cash.

Event Ticket Frauds

Counterfeit tickets are sold to victims for major concerts or sporting events. The fraud is discovered when multiple persons show up for the same seat at an event. Either the seats on the tickets don’t exist or multiple copies of a valid ticket were sold. The goal is to obtain the victim’s credit card information (identity theft) so the fraudsters can subsequently use it fraudulently (identity fraud) or to sell the same ticket multiple times (fraud). More present with the popularity of e-tickets and ticket resale websites.

False/Fake Charities

This type of scam can arrive by mail, by e-mail or over the phone with a request to support a similar sounding popular named charity. The funds donated then go to the fraudulent charity and not the real charity.

Frequent Flyer Miles

The victim receives a phone call indicating they have won a large number of air miles. The victim is then asked to press 1 on the phone and provide their credit card or banking information which is then exploited.

Funeral & Cemetery Scam

It involve ads or e-mails that promise significant cost savings in exchange for paying early for a funeral or cemetery plot that either can’t be provided or doesn’t exist. Please note that each province has a different law governing this type of scam.

Getting a Loan or Financing, Opening Accounts & Mortgage Fraud

It’s easy for fraudsters to forge an ID once they’ve got a hold of your personal information. They then use this identification to apply for loans or open a cell phone account in your name. They might even sell your house out from under you! It’s quite a racket.

Gift Cards

Fraudsters take new gift cards, which are often on display at the cash, bring them to a quiet corner of the store where they use their camera phone to take a picture of the back (where the card number and customer service phone number are written) and then put the cards back on the display. The fraudsters then repeatedly call the store’s customer service line to check the balance on the card. As soon as they hit upon an activated card with a balance, they make a counterfeit version of that card and use it at the store. In the meantime, your mom was unlucky enough to pick up one of these gift cards for you for your birthday. When you try to make your purchase, you find out that the card’s balance is zero. You show them the proof of activation and the amount that was added, but you’re out of luck, because the card was already used, unbeknownst to you and your mom. What a gift!

Health Care Fraud/Health Insurance Fraud

Fraudsters employ identity theft tactics to apply for government or business provided health benefits in the victim’s name and any excess fees or account overages get invoiced to the victim. The fraudsters will often max out the available limits and when the victim tries to make legitimate claims they are denied.

Hidden Cameras & Bluetooth Technology

With a good old James Bond-style hidden camera installed on the ceiling or inside an ATM, fraudsters can record your PIN. And now that everyone has a camera phone, their job is even easier. They can snap pics of your personal documents, ID cards, credit and debit cards, and even get your PIN without your knowledge. They can also use Bluetooth technology to steal and transfer information remotely.

Hit-Man Emails

These frauds are similar the “Bomb Threat” scenario in that the fraudster claims to be an assassin that will carry out his mission (to hurt you or someone else) unless he is provided with a large sum of money.

Home Renovation Scam

Fraudsters quoting on repair services in exchange for upfront deposits for work but never return to do the work. Make sure you have a contract before making payments and check the contractor’s references with your province/municipal license offices.


The victim receives a detailed letter or e-mail enlisting help in moving a large inheritance from a stranger that will be split with the victim once the victim provides their banking information. The banking information is then comprised and the victim’s account is emptied.

Internet Auction Fraud

Items listed for sale on popular auction sites whereby goods in high demand are offered and counterfeit or empty boxes are shipped to the victim after the money transfer has been made.

Job Scams

An offer of employment requesting advance payment for materials to perform the job or any offer involving wiring or money transfer back to the so called employer through the victims’ bank account. At times this scam will include asking for personal information such as your SIN, banking information or credit card information to check if you have good credit. You are then not only a victim of fraud but a victim of identity theft as well.


Usually an e-mail is sent to the victim saying that they have won the lottery and are required to provide their banking information for the deposit of the winnings. Once the fraudsters have the banking information they proceed to empty the accounts.

Mail Fraud

A lot of your mail contains personal information: tax returns, credit card statements, bank statements, and pay stubs. This is a gold mine for fraudsters, who can steal your mail or even have it forwarded to their address by making a fraudulent change-of-address request on the Canada Post website.

Market Manipulation Related to Investment Fraud

Some investment companies will identify a company and use funds to pump up the value of the shares of the business. Once the share price appreciates in value they get victims to buy in at the higher value. When the prices peak, the fraudsters will sell all their shares causing their victims financial loses.

Marriage Scams

The victim is lured into a marriage whereby the sole purpose is for the fraudster to gain entry into the country and obtain citizenship. The victim will pay the costs of the move and marriage, legal fees for the divorce as well as any government costs due to the fraud.

Moving Scams

The victims are enticed to hire movers with very low rates. But on moving day these rates have been changed and the victim has no choice but to pay the inflated rates or their belongings are not removed from the truck. Ensure you have a contract and confirm the provider’s references.

Nigerian Letter or “419” Fraud

This fraud is based on a letter or an e-mail  that invites the victim to share a large amount of funds to be moved out of a country – 30% goes to the victim and the fraudster(s) share the rest. The victim provides their banking information, the account is emptied by the fraudster and the victim gets nothing in return.

Non-Delivery of Merchandise Deposit Lost

The merchandise for sale is offered on-line and is partially paid for upfront but nothing is delivered to the victim and the deposit is lost. Ensure you have a contract and confirm the provider’s or seller’s references.

Office Supplies

A telephone or email pressure sales scheme offering a bargain for office supplies. The goods shipped are at inflated prices and/or the goods sent are substandard or are never delivered.

Online Rental Ad Scams

The victim is asked to provide first and last month’s rent for a property the fraudster has no control over, based on a fraudulent real estate listing or classified advertisement. The victim provides the funds in advance and then would go to view the property and no one shows up.


While you’re on the Web, you might be directed to a fake website that looks just like the one you were just visiting. At that point, identity thieves ask you to re-enter your username and password so they can steal them.


This type of scam involves the creation of bogus e-mail messages and Web pages that appear to be from a recognized business or financial institution asking for personal information to “update” the victims account.  Often the victim does not have an account with them and may still provide their banking particulars including credit card information, passwords and SIN, all of which are later used to perform an identity theft.

Ponzi Schemes

This scam is similar to a “pyramid scheme”, but it’s an investment scam that pays returns to investors from money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profits.

Prime Bank Note Fraud

Investors are offered high returns based on having access to the same rates large financial institutions pay. Investors do not receive the high rates of return promised. Instead they slowly see their funds disappear.

Prize Pitch

The victim is told they have won a prize but must purchase an item and/or pay the taxes and delivery costs in advance to get the prize. If the item arrives it is generally cheap or overpriced.

Puppy Scam

Involves the fraudster taking out classified advertisements targeting dog lovers. The fraudsters promise a puppy once the victim pays the fees and the puppies are old enough to leave their mother. Often stolen photos of dogs are used to draw in victims who forward the fees and of course never receive the promised dog.

Pyramid Schemes

These types of schemes are based on creating large numbers of new investors on an ongoing basis to allow for the original investors to fully remove their funds and leaving the new investors with nothing.

Recovery Pitch

This scam is when a very sympathetic call is made by fraudsters claiming they can get back money owed to the victim of a “prize scheme” or that there is a seizure of funds by a police agency in relation to their victimization and that to be eligible to recover the victims lost funds a fee needs to be paid for their services.

Religious/Affinity Frauds

This type of scheme has been used on parishioner victims and asks them to give their hard earned cash to the church. Often the funds are for personal use or flamboyant lifestyles of those running the church/business.

Romance/Dating Site Scams

These scams are being used to victimize those that are lonely, seniors or looking for that special someone in other countries. Once a level of trust is gained they will be asked for funds to be wired as they claim they can’t afford to travel. The funds are sent and the money is gone with no further contact.

Shoulder Surfing

Fortune favours the bold. A surprisingly easy way for fraudsters to steal your personal information is just to look over your shoulder when you’re entering a PIN on a keypad, filling out a credit card application at the mall, or just reading your mail on the bus!

Spear Phishing

These con artists target social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc. They sign up for these sites and use the personal information you’ve posted to personalize their attack. They might send you an email asking to share or confirm information or directing you to a fake site. They might also target employees and members of a company or organization by sending an email that appears to come from their employer, in an attempt to gather login data so they can access the corporate IT system.

Tax Frauds Involving SIN/Income Tax Fraud

Individuals not eligible to work in Canada use the SIN of an eligible individual victim. At tax time the victim is then on the hook for paying the taxes of the fraudster. Often the victim has to go through a great deal of red tape to clear up the fraud.

Telephone Number Spoofing

This scam targets people who have caller ID on their telephones. The fraudster use computer programs to change the number the victim sees on the screen, often they will change it to be a government agency number or local business. The fraudsters will then attempt to get the victim to give them their banking and personal information over the phone.

Tourist Scam

You’re stopped in the street by someone who seems lost. They have a map of the area and ask you for directions. While you’re concentrating on the map, their accomplice, who has been standing off to the side, makes off with your wallet. You don’t notice a thing until you try to pay for something, only to find that your wallet’s gone! In another scam, they’ll ask you to take their picture and while you’re busy playing photographer, they grab your wallet.

Travel Lotteries

Ballots are filled out at auto or boat shows for the chance to win a trip. The ballots are then used to create a calling list indicating the victim has won a free travel or some other gift. The victim is asked for their credit card information to cover administrative fees or to pay for an up sell (bring a friend or family for a small extra fee).

Used Car, Private Sale Scam

Vehicles that have been stolen, written off or wrecked due to accidents are cosmetically repaired and sold to unsuspecting victims for market prices. The fraudster will often meet the victim in a parking lot for the victim to view the vehicle. The vehicles are worth far less and often cannot be repaired.

Vehicle Warranty Packages

This package often arrives as an unsolicited telephone or mail offer that will add coverage to an existing vehicle for a fee, however there is no value as the offer is bogus and can’t be used.


Similar to “phishing”, except the fraudsters contact you by phone instead of email. They’ll even go so far as to program a fake number into the phone system so the number that pops up on your caller ID is the number of the bank or other organization they’re impersonating (called “spoofing”).