The Better Business Bureau of Canada released its top ten scams of 2013 and it’s required reading for anyone whose ever been tempted to help out that kindly Nigerian prince who just needs a little cash so that he can give you a hundred million dollars. It’s also required reading for people who think themselves above such obvious scams, as some of the most common cons are both subtle and seemingly legitimate.
By far the most depressing are the love scams that have duped Canadians out of a reported $14 million dollars. Victims develop an online romance with a con artist who lives abroad. The romantic thief asks for money for a plane ticket, only to disappear as soon as the money gets wired. Some victims have lost up to $200,000. So aspiring online romancers would do well to proceed with caution when their sweetheart asks for a business class ticket from Timbuktu.
In the sales world, curbers attempt to sell stolen or salvage cars to shoppers who agree to meet them on parking lots and curbs. Often, the odometer has been rolled back to show fewer miles, and the Vehicle Identification Number changed. If someone asks to meet you on a street corner, to get paid in cash and (huge red flag) to lie on a transfer form, that VW van of your dreams is probably of dubious providence. Find a licensed dealer at vehiclesaleauthority.com in British Columbia, The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council or the Canadian Auto Association’s Gold Book or Black Book.
In the mobile world, one of the most widespread scams is the text message troll. Victims receive a text telling them they’ve won a prize from a retailer. To receive they must respond by relinquishing their personal data. Messages that ask you to respond with a “No” or “Stop” are merely confirming that they’ve found an active phone number. Don’t do it! Alas, Apple does not give out free iPads randomly via text message.
The Better Business Bureau has also created a handy infographic to help you familiarize yourself with the most widespread scams. By the way, I have this car that my grandmother gave me that I’m trying to sell. It’s a great deal…