Better Business Bureau’s Canadian National Top 10 Scams of 2017

BBB’S National Top 10 Scams have been a driving force for awareness of fraudulent activity in Canada for many years. This annual, villainous list is created from key information from the BBB’s Scam Tracker website, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre statistics, and critical concerns frequently brought forward by their community partners and corporate sponsors.
Scammers bilked Canadians of over $95 million in 2017 and, once again, it’s believed that only 5% of those victimized actually come forward to report losses. Taking that into account, the actual losses quickly balloon to the range of $2 billion dollars.
“Everyone is a target now,” says Danielle Primrose, President and CEO of BBB serving Mainland BC and representing BBBs across Canada. “Staying informed and on top of the numerous ways scammers try and get your money is key to making sure you don’t fall victim. That’s why we do this every year. Recognize it, report it, stop it.”
The Top 10 Scams of 2017
  1. Online Purchase Scams
  2. Wire Fraud – Spearphishing
  3. Online Dating Scams
  4. Employment Scams
  5. Cryptocurrency Scams
  6. Income Tax Scam
  7. Miracle Weight Loss Scams
  8. Advance Fee Loans
  9. Shady Contractor Services
  10. Fake Invoices


1. Online Purchase Scams
More than $13 million lost

The most reported type of scam to BBB Scam Tracker. There isn’t just one. From fake websites to counterfeit goods to free trial traps and more, online purchase scams are everywhere.

Shop on reputable websites

Read all terms and conditions

Be wary of offers that are “too good to be true”

2. Wire Fraud / Spearphishing
More than $20 million lost

Canadian businesses lose millions every year to those posing as CEOs who redirect company money through wire and email transfers.

Build in payment redundancy systems

Make sure email addresses are correct

Educate your employees about these scams

3. Romance Scam
More than $19 million lost

Canadians lost a lot more than their hearts to catphishers in 2017. Online dating scams continue unabated to hurt those looking for love.

Never send money to someone you’ve never met

Always meet in person

Don’t give out personal information such as email and phone number

4. Employment Scam
More than $5 million lost

Last year’s number one scam slides down the list, but still targets Canadians through reputable employment websites.

If you didn’t apply, you didn’t get hired

A legitimate company would not ask you to wire money as a “test”

Look for poor grammar, lack of job details, and over-the-top pay scale

5. Cryptocurrency Scams
More than $1.7 million lost

Cryptocurrencies are speculative, high-risk investments that are mostly unregulated. As they have captured the attention of investors, so too have fraudsters taken notice.

There is an elevated risk of fraud and manipulation

Some offerings may not comply with securities laws

6. Income Tax Scam
More than $5 million lost

For years Canadians from coast to coast have been targeted in the CRA tax scam. While we are getting better at recognizing it, the threatening phone calls keep coming.

The CRA does not make threatening phone calls

The CRA will not solicit personal information over the phone or by email

Canadian government agencies do not accept payment in Bitcoin

7. Miracle Weight-loss Scam
Losses unknown

Losing weight is a goal for many Canadians. Be careful, many fat-burning products may only lighten your wallet.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

Don’t trust unsubstantiated claims

There is no magic pill for rapid weight loss

8. Advance Fee Loans
More than $1.5 million lost

The shady lender guarantees you’ll get a loan. They turn around and ask for an upfront payment as security.

If you’re approved for a loan and they request money as security, walk away

Research reputable lenders

A guarantee of a loan before any credit check is highly suspect

9. Shady Contractors
More than $3 million lost

Yes, this is still a problem. Contractors without a conscience who take your deposit and disappear.

Be wary of unsolicited offers of work

Get several estimates for a job

Go to to research trustworthy companies

10. Fake Invoices
Losses unknown

Millions of Canadians have online accounts to companies like Amazon, UPS, Canada Post, and iTunes. Your email inbox is often stuffed with realistic looking invoices from many different organizations.

Contact the organization directly if you have concerns

Compare details of the invoice to your original order

Don’t click on any links or input personal information


For more details on the Top 10 Scams and tips to avoid them go to
BBB encourages businesses and consumers to practice cyber security and protect their personal information and it starts with regularly changing your passwords. Using strong passwords and changing them every few months keeps hackers and scammers at bay. Use #bbbpasswordday on March 15 to show you’ve changed your passwords or ask questions about cyber security.
If you spot a business or offer that sounds like an illegal scheme or fraud, inform BBB and help them investigate and warn others by reporting what you know.