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Canadian investors remain at risk despite awareness of fraudulent tactics: BCSC

by Greg Klein | March 6, 2019

The scamster’s quickest way to a mark’s wallet might be through the victim’s family and friends. Out of six warning signs of investment fraud, a new poll finds, being encouraged to invest because friends and family have already done so fools the most Canadians.

Conducted for the B.C. Securities Commission, the online survey questioned 2,915 Canadians, including 1,407 in B.C. In the lowest score of awareness, only 61% of B.C. respondents and 55% nationally recognized the family and friends ruse, among the half-dozen gambits that also included:

Canadian investors remain at risk despite awareness of fraudulent tactics: BCSC

  • Guaranteed high returns with little or no risk

  • Moving money outside the country to avoid tax

  • A strong push to act now

  • An offer of inside information

  • An offer available only to a select few

The most widely recognized ruse was guaranteed high returns, spotted by 77% in B.C. and 74% in Canada overall. Only 44% of British Columbians and 40% of Canadians overall caught all six.

“But one missed sign is sometimes all it takes for someone to be victimized,” pointed out BCSC director of communications and education Pamela McDonald.

British Columbians scored slightly better than the national results, but also admitted to a slightly greater tendency to getting ripped off. Twelve percent of B.C. respondents said they’d been conned, compared with 10% nationally. Oddly enough, another 12% (B.C.) and 10% (Canada-wide) said they didn’t know whether they’d been swindled.

Scam losses amounted to $5,000 or more for 40% (B.C.) and 45% (Canada-wide). But British Columbians expressed marginally less insecurity, with 44% conceding they were as likely as anyone else to get scammed, compared with 45% nationally.

The closest affinity between B.C. and nation-wide results came with responses to a statement that “reporting a fraudulent investment is more trouble than it’s worth.” In both groups, only 16% agreed.

“We are encouraged to see that most people are willing to report investment fraud, rather than just letting it go,” said BCSC director of enforcement Doug Muir. “Our investigators need the public’s help. The sooner we know about scams, the better our chances of preventing further losses.”

The BCSC accepts tips at 604.899.6854, 800.373,6393, inquiries@bcsc.bc.ca and via online form.

Read more about the fraud-awareness survey.

Learn more about fraud awareness.

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