Top Ten Scams over ten years: Old scams, new tricks

February 28, 2014

February, 28, 2014 - CALGARY, ALBERTA - March is Fraud Prevention Month, and in Canada the campaign is celebrating ten years of educating consumers to Recognize it! Report it! Stop it! Over the past decade, fraudsters have seized the opportunities of technology making it easier than ever to target consumers. BBB is warning Calgary residents about the top ten scams of the past ten years.

President and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, Sandra Crozier-McKee, says even though some of the scams seem familiar, consumers need to pay attention to the new tricks used by scammers. "People may not consider themselves a likely target if they are already familiar with the scam," she says. "But with technology making it easier for scammers to copy realistic logos, business names and websites, it can be easy to miss the warning signs. Scammers are also able to reach consumers directly through mobile devices which can make it easier to fall victim to their tricks."

BBB  announces the Top Ten Scams of the past ten years:

  • TOP ADVERTISING SCAM: Astroturfing - This is a term for posting fake online reviews on websites such as Google or Yelp. It is a form of false advertising that can help to boost a company's public profile online through what is supposed to be an unbiased consumer review websites.
  • TOP LOVE SCAM: Catphishing - A romance scam in which a fraudster pretends to be someone they are not on an online dating or social media website, for the purpose of taking money or personal information from their targets.
  • TOP ONLINE SCAM: Enterprise Fee Scheme - An unsolicited request for modest financial assistance in exchange for a great deal of money. Scammers ask for an upfront payment to cover transaction costs, whether to "unlock" a larger sum of money or facilitate a transfer of shares. Either way, the fraudster keeps the fee, but doesn't deliver what was promised.
  • TOP FINANCIAL SCAM: Affinity Fraud - It happens where you'd least expect it, with people you know and trust like religious institutions, colleagues or other association connections and even friends and, sometimes, family. The fraudsters' business is lying to people to gain their trust and steal their money.
  • TOP SALES SCAM: Curbers - These unlicensed dealers get junk cars and then sell them from parking lots. Curbers do not disclose the vehicle's history to the buyer, often hiding a lien, accident damage or rolled back odometers. Sometimes, the car turns out to be stolen.
  • TOP MAIL SCAM: Lottery Scams -The typical scenario involves an individual who receives a letter in the mail saying they have won $2.5 million. The person is instructed to send back money as a 'processing fee' and include personal details, such as a telephone number and birth date. The consumer's information is compromised and they are left empty-handed.
  • TOP TELEMARKETING SCAM: The Unknown Caller - You may receive a call that your computer security has been compromised and that they can help you, or that your grandchild is in jail and in need of money. In either case, it is a cold call that has come out of the blue and is asking you to take action quickly and send money now.
  • TOP YOUTH SCAM: The Insta-scam- Through a mobile app like Instagram, a scammer can post pictures of prize giveaways that look to be linked to big brands and retailers, but in reality may redirect you to other websites trying to get your credit card information. Users of the social media app may share or "like" a promo in order to fulfill the contest rules, but in reality they are just giving help to spammers and will never get a prize.
  • TOP BUSINESS SCAM: Pretender Scam - A business receives an invoice which appears to be from an "authorized" service provider for things like online advertising, webhosting, website domain registration or trademark copywriting services. In all cases, the service is misrepresented and the business is often threatened that they will be put into a collections' service if they do not pay the invoice.
  • SCAM OF THE YEAR: Celebrity Gossip Spam - Some of Hollywood's top names regularly make top headlines, which makes them ideal fodder for scammers to put out bogus content on social media networks. Clicking through a spam video or picture can often redirect you to an online survey that puts advertising commission in a spammer's wallet despite the content being non-existent or a fake. In some cases, a person may end up installing malware on their computer after clicking through the video content.  

For more information and other consumer tips, visit  



Media contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Phone: (403) 531-8793

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local,independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, which was founded in 1954 and garners more than one million instances of service annually. 

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