BBB National Top 10 Scams of 2016

February 28, 2017



Vancouver, BC - BBB’s across Canada have been working diligently to bring you the most prevalent scams that targeted Canadians in 2016. This year’s nefarious list is an amalgamation of information gathered from BBB’s Scam Tracker website, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and concerns brought forward by sponsors and community partners.

The truth is, it’s not good news and the numbers don’t lie. Canadians lost more money in 2016 than the previous two years. In fact, 50% more than in 2015. Last year, scammers took over 90 million out of the pockets of Canadians in a menagerie of ways from fake employment to online dating to misleading reviews.

There is some good news. Our number one scam from last year has been in decline. A call centre in India was raided and the dreaded Canada Revenue Agency Tax Scam dropped off dramatically. While the numbers for that scam remain down, it has not gone away entirely.

“The positive takeaway right now, is that there appears to be more reporting going on which would explain some of the increase in money lost,” says Danielle Primrose, President, and CEO of BBB serving Mainland BC. “But at the end of the day it still only represents at most 5% of what was actually taken from Canadians. There is a lot more work to be done and a lot more awareness to be raised and a lot more reporting to do. Don’t be ashamed, let someone know if you’ve been scammed.” 

The Top 10 Scams of 2016

1. Employment Scams - $5.3 million reported
2. Online Dating Scams – $17 million reported
3. Identity Fraud - $11 million reported
4. Advance Fee Loans - $1.1 million reported
5. Online Purchase Scams - $8.6 million reported
6. Wire Fraud – Spearphishing - $13 million reported
7. Binary Option Scams - $7.5 million reported
8. Fake Lottery Winnings - $3 million reported
9.Canada Revenue Agency Scam - $4.3 million reported
10. Fake Online Endorsements - $Unknown

“BBB derived much of the information from our new web page, BBB Scam Tracker,” adds Primrose. “While we have focused on these ten scams, there have been thousands reported on the web page across North America since 2015.”

One of the key things people can do to prevent getting scammed is to regularly change their passwords to online accounts. With that in mind, BBB is launching its second annual ‘National BBB Password Day’ on March 15th, 2017. We hope to inspire and remind Canadians about the importance of protecting their online presence. #bbbpasswordday


Spot a business or offer that sounds like an illegal scheme or fraud? Tell us about it. Help us investigate and warn others by reporting what you know. Visit us at

BBB would like to thank the following community partners for helping make the National Top 10 Scams of 2016 campaign possible:

The Competition Bureau
Option Consommateurs
Consumer Debtor Protection Canada
The Bank of Canada
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Global Payments Canada
BC Securities Commission
Vancouver Police Department


Media Contacts:

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
404-788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2M1

Competition Bureau Canada
Phil Norris
Senior Communications Advisor, Public Affairs, and Outreach Directorate
Competition Bureau | Government of Canada

Bank of Canada
Farid Salji, Currency Analyst
British Columbia and Yukon (Currency)

Option Consommateurs
Maison du développement durable
50, rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, Bureau 440
Montréal (Québec)
H2X 3V4
toll-free: 1-888-412-1313

BC Securities Commission
Alison Walker, Media Relations
BC Securities Commission

Consumer Debtor Protection Canada Ltd.

Elisa Damiano
1-888-482-0334 x 223

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Profiles, all available for free at BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 108 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2016, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 7,500 complaints.