The Scope of Scams: Worse than We Thought

December 12, 2017

Better Business Bureau has long been at the forefront of scam awareness. Our Annual Top 10 Scams campaigns that run from coast to coast throughout North America are one of the biggest and most visible media pushes of the year. This year (2016) the National Top 10 Scams campaign in Canada garnered well over 150 media hits and mentions across the country followed by countless social media posts and shares. You’d think this effort and efforts of all of our community partners, such as The Competition Bureau of Canada and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre would mitigate scams targeting consumers. Nope.

BBB has recently done a couple of studies that actually show the scope of two specific scams is actually far bigger and more far-reaching than we knew.

Puppy Scams

Dogs are intrinsic in many people’s lives in North America so we often search high and low for the perfect K9, unless of course you prefer a rescue and that’s good too! BBB recently looked at online marketing of puppies whether it be through a glossy website with tons of adorable pics to simple Craigslist ads and found a staggering 80% are likely fake and simply after your money.

Consumers find a website through a Google search and find one that looks good, lots of pics and puppies for sale and promises of easy shipment. Naturally, the animal is not located in your city. All you need to do is contact them via their email, wire some money and the dog is shipped through a trusted airline. However, along the way, the ‘breeder’ requests funding for thing like insurance, crating, and vaccines. The bills quickly add up but the dog never shows up.

BBB’s study on this scam found that most of the fake websites we found were actually based in West Africa in countries like Cameroon and Nigeria. Do your best to always see the animals in person and use a reputable breeder that is near you. Never wire money to people you’ve never met.

The Tech Support Scam

You know the’re browsing the Internet then all of a sudden a pop-up ad appears to freeze your computer and the only way to fix it is to call the advertised number in order to have your computer unlocked for a fee. The scam can also come in the form of a phone call from someone claiming to be from a well-known company like Microsoft or Dell. Both require that you give remote access to the ‘tech’ so they can make your computer work again. The truth is, your computer hasn’t been locked, only your browsing window has. Simply turning off and rebooting your computer should get rid of it.

BBB’s study on this scam found it’s not a matter of IF you’ll be targeted, but simply when. Microsoft’s own study on this finds 2 out of 3 people have been targeted like this and with the overwhelming majority of homes that now have computers, you can see why this is such a problem...and so lucrative for scammers. The study also indicates most of the perps work in a call centre in India. 85% of reported scams originated from there. The rest were found to come from the USA and Costa Rica.


BBB report on Tech Scams.

BBB report on Pet Scams.

Report scams to:

BBB Scam Tracker

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre