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B.C. amongst top 3 provinces for dollars lost in scams, study finds

Though tedious, change your passwords frequently and never use the same password for multiple accounts.
In 2021, Canada lost $380 million in scams.

British Columbia ranked third for most dollars lost to online scammers in Canada.

Social Catfish analyzed five years of data from 2017-21, which the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre provided them.

In 2021, Canada lost $380 million in scams — double 2020's total of $165 million. And while Ontario ranked first for losing the most money per report, $3,010.21, Alberta and B.C. were not too far behind with $2,970.30 lost, and $2,916.67, respectively. 

The study notes the three most common areas for online scams to occur are in investments, romance and extortion: $165 million lost through investment scams, $134 million in romance scams, and $54 million in extortion.

But in terms of the number of scam victims per 100,000 residents, B.C. placed sixth with 248.9 reports. 

And while every age group had some likelihood of being scammed, the study found that people ages 60 to 69 were the most likely to be scammed, losing $81,384. Victims in their 40s were the second most likeliest group, losing losing $78,954.

Tips to avoid getting scammed

When it comes investment scams, Social Catfish notes in their press release that cybercriminals will present "once-in-a-lifetime opportunities with high rates of return and little risk."

The best way to avoid these scams is to simply say no to investing in people you don't know without a lot of research. These days, investing through cryptocurrency or in a new type of crypto is common — avoid them at all costs, warns Social Catfish.

For romance scams, cybercriminals target single people who are vulnerable to falling in love. Through a virtual relationship, scammers gain their victim's trust and request money for "emergencies." 

With the rise of online dating apps, it can be difficult for some people to see through potential scam traps. But regardless of one's desire for love, Social Catfish emphasizes that it is integral to reverse image search a potential suitor's profile picture to confirm their identity. 

To the average person, extortion scams disguised as law enforcement requests can be intimidating. However, it is important to remember that RCMP or any government agency will never demand payment through email or the phone. 

If you are the victim of an online scam, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.