Top scams to watch for in 2022
Feel empowered to face fraud with our roundup of 2022’s top scams: cryptocurrency investment scams, phishing, vishing and smishing, tech support scams, merchant scams and romance scams.
By ATB Financial 13 June 2022 6 min read
While there are many types of scams out there, there are simple ways to protect yourself. Feel empowered to face fraud with our roundup of 2022’s top scams.
Cryptocurrency investment scams
Investment scams (like Ponzi schemes) in general are popular for fraudsters, but cryptocurrency investment scams specifically have only risen in popularity over the years. The contact—whether done over text, email or phone call—could be unsolicited, or seem to be a referral from a family member or friend.
The investment is often fully or partially “guaranteed.” Fraudsters will try to pressure you to continuously reinvest after the initial investment. You might even get false monthly statements highlighting the positive performance of your investment. If you try to withdraw funds, the fraudster will either end communications or charge you a massive fee to withdraw.
Cryptocurrency investment scam red flags:
- Communication was unsolicited
- There’s a sense of urgency
- An unrealistic investment potential, or a sense that it’s too good to be true
How can you protect yourself from cryptocurrency investment scams?
- If it was a “referral”, reach out to the family member or friend directly to verify
- Don’t invest with a company or person you’ve never heard of. If they claim to be a legitimate organization, contact that organization directly to confirm
- Use legitimate and known platforms if you’re interested in self directed investing
Phishing, vishing and smishing
If you’re familiar with fraud, then you’ve probably heard of phishing, vishing and smishing. You could get a text message, email or phone call from someone impersonating a trusted brand—think Costco, Telus, your bank, or the CRA. Usually they’ll promise a refund or tell you that there are issues with your account being restricted. If you respond to these messages, they’ll ask for more information, including one time passcodes, login credentials, card details or your social insurance number.
Phishing and vishing red flags:
- Texts are sent from a personal number
- Not having an account with the company contacting you
- A sense of urgency or threats
- Language or spelling inconsistencies and errors in the sender’s email address, the link they prompt you to click on or throughout the message
How can you protect yourself from phishing and vishing?
- No company will ever ask for your one time passcode outside of their legitimate login site—don’t share it with anyone
- Never click on a link that’s shared over email or text message
- Never contact a phone number shared through email or text before verifying
- Know the signs of a fraudulent message
Tech support scam
If you get an unsolicited message from (what appears to be) a tech support company, it’s a good time to pause and apply your fraud know-how.
Fraudulent tech support could come in many ways, whether it’s a phone call, email, text or pop up message, all indicating that an antivirus or software update is urgently needed. The “tech support” would ask you to give them remote access to your device by downloading an app or going to a website.
You may also be asked to login to your online banking. This could allow the fraudsters to make unauthorized banking transactions. You could also be asked to pay for the support using gift cards or prepaid credits cards.
Tech support scam red flags:
- Unsolicited call or message
- Alarming pop up messages on your device
- Payment is requested in untraceable methods, like gift cards or prepaid credit cards
How can you protect yourself from tech support scams?
- Contact the legitimate support services directly to confirm whether the message was fraudulent
- Don’t download any software provided by an unverified third party—this may be malware
- Use trusted tech and security services, like McAfee or Norton
Shop for second hand items online with confidence by understanding merchant scams. This scam happens when fraudsters post goods for sale on Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace or other online selling platforms. They’ll ask you for a deposit, then won’t respond to your messages or give you your item.
Merchant scam red flags:
- The seller asks for money before you can see the items
- The seller imposes an urgency to send a payment for different reasons, like other people being interested
How can you protect yourself from merchant scams?
- Never pay for a good or service before you’re able to see it and purchase it in person
- Be cautious about sellers asking for payment before they give you the item
- If the price for an item or service seems too good to be true, it might be
In February 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported that in 2021, romance scams were responsible for the second highest amount of fraud-related dollars lost—$64 million—coming in behind investment scams. Whether on a legitimate dating site, social media or other online sources, fraudsters build trust, friendship and maybe even “love” with those looking for a relationship. Then they ask for money for all kinds of reasons, ranging from a personal emergency to a limited time investment opportunity. Sometimes they can even start threatening their love interest. Ultimately, they rely on emotions to manipulate others.
Romance scam red flags:
- They profess their love after a short period of time or having never met you
- They’re never able to meet in person and their face is hard to see in video calls
- They’re unwilling to meet your friends or family, and insist on keeping the relationship (and you) isolated
- They frequently leverage emotions, like anger or guilt, in conversation to get what they want
- They talk about financial struggles or gains frequently
- You see all of these red flags, but tell yourself that there isn’t an issue—denial is a huge contributor to romance scams
How can you protect yourself from romance scams?
- Having a trusted circle of family members and friends—they can help keep you accountable and create a standard for trustworthiness
- Bring this inner circle of trusted people into your romantic relationship—and if your romantic interest consistently insists otherwise, be cautious
- Be self-aware and ask yourself if you’re seeing this person clearly, if you’re compromising and how healthy you are in this relationship
- Create appropriate boundaries for yourself in romantic relationships, including how emotionally involved you get at what point
- Never give money to anyone who you’ve never met, or who uses emotion, urgency or threats to manipulate you
- If you’re being threatened, contact the police right away
No matter what scam you come across in 2022—an unsolicited cryptocurrency investment or offer for tech support, a phishing attempt, a merchant scam while you’re bargain hunting or a romance scam—you can feel confident knowing how to identify them and how to deal with them.
If you’re worried that a communication claiming to be from ATB is fraudulent, please contact email@example.com to confirm. If you believe you’re a victim of fraud from false ATB communication, you can also report the incident to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe you received fraudulent communications or were a victim of fraud in any way, please report all incidents to The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.