The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) is encouraging Albertans to learn how to protect their money by spotting a fraudster with the Fraudster’s Playbook, titled “Don’t be fooled by fraud.”
“We have seen some increase in fraud overall, but we’ve also seen the type of fraud change,” said ASC Senior Advisor, Susan Soprovich.
The Canadian Security Administrators (CSA) released an investor index study which indicated that fraud has increased with people under 35.
“With COVID-19, we’re seeing a lot more online fraud and COVID-19 related scams such as working from home, and day trading for a fee. A lot of these scam artists are playing on people’s fears of unemployment,” Soprovich said.
“The ASC is warning Alberta investors about potentially fraudulent ads by companies offering opportunities to work from home as traders in the financial markets during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Adding, “Typically claiming to train you on trading stocks or forex, the ads state that traders can keep a large percentage of the profits, and they don’t need experience or a licence; however, the firms demand payment of fees from would-be traders, and the ASC believes neither the firms nor fees are legitimate.”
Although fraud is not related to one group of people, seniors are mostly targeted because they have retirement savings.
“We reach out quite a bit to the senior community to make sure they understand it,” Soprovich said.
“We’re also seeing younger folks think it’s not going to happen to them, because they know about finances, but what we’re seeing now is those under 35 are getting defrauded,” she said.
Adding, “It could be their financial knowledge is not as good as they think, or it may be from trust. The other fraud we’re seeing is infinity fraud.”
The ASC advises Albertans that fraudsters commonly come from mutual friends, or from people they know, including friends, family members, and community groups.
“A lot of times they won’t call it an investment, they might call it a loan, or a real estate deal, but they will guarantee a return on it, and the person being targeted may not do their research to make sure it’s legitimate,” Soprovich said.
“We created this book because realistically, fraud doesn’t change that much. Fraudsters tend to do the same thing and have certain steps that they take,” she said.
Adding, “We wanted to break it down into very easy to read steps and the process that a fraudster will take to earn your trust, talk about whatever the opportunity is to get you hooked, and get you handing over your hard-earned money.”
Soprovich is hopeful that when Albertan’s read the Fraudster’s Playbook, they will learn the warning signs and the steps that a fraudster will take to earn their trust.
Soprovich warns Albertans of the common red flags of fraud, which include time sensitive offers, private deals, guaranteed rates of return, and if a deal sounds too good to be true it usually is.
“It’s taking care of your own money and protecting yourself, sometimes you get caught or you get carried away. Be cautious with your money, know how to protect yourself, educate yourself so you can recognize these things and protect yourself,” Soprovich said.
“Once your money has been handed over to a fraudster, it’s almost impossible to get it back,” she added. “Our goal is to help people feel empowered and feel like they can protect themselves.”
For more information please visit the ASC website at, https://www.albertasecurities.com/.
“It’s a resource to help people increase their financial knowledge,” Soprovich said.