A decrease in dollars lost to fraud in New Brunswick, coupled with a rise in the number of frauds reported in 2022, could mean consumers are becoming more comfortable identifying and reporting frauds and scams, according to the Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB).
“We are encouraged by the increase in New Brunswickers reporting frauds and scams,” said Marissa Sollows, FCNB’s director of communications and public affairs. “This could be a sign that consumers are becoming more confident in recognizing fraud, and that they understand the importance of reporting it.”
Fraud Prevention Month is a national awareness initiative held each March that aims to empower Canadians by providing information they need to recognize, reject, and report fraud. To mark the month, FCNB is sharing details of the top frauds reported in 2022 and highlighting an ongoing campaign to educate New Brunswickers on the importance of borrowing from licensed payday lenders and the risks of working with unlicensed ones.
According to a report from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, 468 New Brunswickers reported losing more than $3.15 million to fraud – down from the reported total of $4.29 million in 2021. The number of New Brunswickers who reported being targeted by frauds and scams jumped by 16 per cent from the previous year.
Among the province’s top frauds last year were:
- Investment fraud ($1.48 million reported lost, 46 reports): A scammer convinces someone to invest in false or misleading investment opportunities, promising higher-than-normal returns. Common forms of investment fraud include crypto-asset investment scams, initial coin offerings and pyramid or ponzi schemes.
- Spear Phishing ($346,283 reported lost, 12 reports): Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal information by masquerading as an authentic organization. Spear phishing is when the scammer gathers specific information about you and uses it to tailor their pitch, so the fake email seems even more convincing.
- Emergency scams ($264,889 reported lost, 48 reports): A scammer targets consumers by calling, usually late at night, pretending to be a friend or family member in trouble (i.e., a grandchild). The scammer says they need money sent right away, but they ask the victim to keep it a secret, so they do not get in trouble with other family members.
- Prize scams ($211,108 reported lost, 44 reports): Scammers claim you have won a prize (cash, car, vacation, etc.) and, to receive the winnings, you must pay a small advance fee to cover taxes or legal fees. After the fee is paid, no prize is ever received, and scammers will use the financial information to take over consumers’ accounts.
- Romance scams ($174,801 reported lost, 12 reports): A scammer will most commonly use email, social media sites and dating websites to set up a fake profile, pretending to be looking for a companion. Once they gain the person’s trust over time, the scammer will say they need money for a personal or medical emergency, to help pay their bills or for travel expenses to visit the person.
As part of its ongoing campaign on the importance of working with a licensed payday lender, FCNB is promoting a new online payday loans guide about how New Brunswickers can check licensing and avoid the fraudulent or unlawful practices often associated with non-licensed lending activity,.
New Brunswickers can follow FCNB on social media, visit FCNB.ca or book a free presentation to learn more about fraud and what they can do to protect themselves. Consumers who have been targeted by a fraud should report it to FCNB, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and their local police.
Audio file of Marissa Sollows, director of communications and public affairs, FCNB
1 866 933-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FCNB has the mandate to provide regulatory services that protect the public interest, enhance public confidence and promote understanding of the regulated sectors through educational programs. It is responsible for the administration and enforcement of provincial legislation regulating mortgage brokers, payday lenders, real estate, securities, insurance, pensions, credit unions, trust and loan companies, cooperatives, and a wide range of other consumer legislation. It is an independent Crown corporation funded by the regulatory fees and assessments paid by the regulated sectors. Online educational tools and resources are available at www.fcnb.ca.