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RCMP seeing 'significant increase' in fraudulent activity in Canada since 2020

Citing a "significant increase" in fraudulent activity in Canada in the last two years— the majority of which in the last year has been happening online—the RCMP is calling on Canadians to be aware of scammers' tactics.

Speaking to MPs on the House of Commons Industry and Technology Committee on Monday, during a hearing on the prevalence of fraudulent calls in Canada, RCMP Director General for National Cybercrime Coordination Unit Chris Lynam said that since 2020, officials have seen this marked increase in scams, including through email and social media.

"Part of the challenge… is that you're dealing with very highly adaptive people, and they're criminals. So they can very easily pivot to adopt the newest technique... For example, they will watch what's happening in terms of an incident or a government-type rebate, and very quickly they'll be able to figure out how to go and put that scam pitch out to Canadians," Lynam said. "We now think over 70 per cent of the activity is cyber-enabled."

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAC) so far this year, there have been 61,305 reports of fraud, 38,812 victims of fraud, and $332.7 million lost to fraud in Canada, as of the end of August. These figures include online scams as well as fraudulent calls. 

In all of 2021 the CAC received 107,139 reports of fraud, targeting 68,061 victims, and resulting in $383 million lost. Lynam said that the 2021 figures were a 130 per cent increase from 2020.

"Oftentimes, we're dealing with thousands of victims, multiple policing jurisdictions, cybercrime, infrastructure, and digital evidence in foreign countries," he said. "At the same time, CAC estimates that only five to 10 per cent of victim victims actually report fraud to law enforcement," he said.

Calling fraud an "omnipresent challenge," the lead for the RCMP's cybercrime unit said arrests aren't the only way to tackle the issue, citing prevention and awareness-building as other necessary tools.

Noting October is Cyber Security Awareness month, Lynam said it's important for Canadians to "be aware of what's happening out there," pointing to federal initiatives undetaken, including outreach to seniors and an online reporting mechanism that's in the process of being updated. 

The committee voted last month to renew its look at fraud in Canada—hearing both from federal officials as well as stakeholders on the latest developments—in follow up to a previous study and report from 2020 that called for the government to be more transparent and proactive about fraudsters targeting Canadians. Top Stories


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