Scams & Fraud

Every year criminals use scams and fraud to obtain money from individuals through many different means. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Telemarketing scams
  • Identity theft
  • Door-to-door scams
  • Online scams
  • Business scams
  • Email and text message scams
  • Mail scams

While many people don’t think it could happen to them, fraudsters use increasing sophisticated tactics and target people of all ages, often from the most vulnerable populations.


  • Always be careful about providing confidential personal information, especially banking or credit card details. Only provide this information when you are certain a company is legitimate. Examples of personal information also includes identification numbers, passport number, SIN number, driver's license number, date of birth, address, and more.
  • If in doubt, ask for written information, a call back number, references, or time to think over an offer.
  • Ask the advice of someone you trust such as a university staff member or even your banker.

Warning Signs

  • The deal sounds too good to be true.
  • You must provide your private financial information.
  • You are asked to send or accept cash, money orders, or gift cards rather than through more traceable means like cheque or credit card.
  • The person claims to hold a position of some authority (government official, tax officer, banking officer, lawyer, etc.).
  • The person asks you many personal questions and attempts to be overly friendly.

What to do if you are a victim

  • Step 1: Gather all information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
  • Step 2: Report the incident to your local police or RCMP. This ensures that they are aware of which scams are targeting their residents and businesses. Keep a log of all your calls and record all file or occurrence numbers.
  • Step 3: Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
  • Step 4: Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent (e.g., money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, bank or credit union, credit card company or internet payment service provider).
  • Step 5: Report to any relevant websites. If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website. These details can be found under "report abuse" or "report an ad."
  • Step 6: Report to credit bureaus. Victims of identity fraud should place flags on all their accounts and report to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.

In the News: Virtual Kidnapping Scam

Last updated: Sep 2018

Over the past several months, the RCMP has released three warnings about a cyber extortion scheme that tricks victims into believing their loved ones have been kidnapped.

While similar schemes are being reported worldwide, incidents in the Lower Mainland appear to be targeted at international students, specifically Chinese nationals, attending schools in the Greater Vancouver area. As members of the University community, please remain aware and educated about potential virtual kidnapping scams.

What is a virtual kidnapping scam?

These scams trick international students and their families into believing that their loved ones have been kidnapped or will be harmed. This scam can take different forms, and it is important to understand the ways in which suspects may use these types of phone calls to extort money from victims. The RCMP advisories detail below the types of phone calls that may be received.

How you can protect yourself:

    • Communicate often with family and friends who live abroad, and educate them on the virtual kidnapping scam.
    • Anyone who receives similar calls should not comply with any demands. Do not transfer money to the caller; do not give the caller any personal details.
    • Hang-up immediately.
    • Call your local police department or RCMP detachment.
    Students are encouraged to share this message, as well as the below police advisories with their families. The RCMP is encouraging anyone impacted by these calls to immediately report the incident to your local police department or RCMP detachment. The police are here to help and support you.

RCMP News Releases:

Government of Canada News Release:

RCMP Resources: