In the blind spot of the pandemic, fraudsters have widened their playing field. More than ever, they are ruining the lives of a large number of honest people.
They are opportunistic phishers, social media scammers, or identity thieves. We can say that these scammers have taken advantage of the technological acceleration of the last two years to refine their techniques.
Alarmingly, in Canada, Quebec ranks first in terms of the number of identity frauds. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, this has been the most common type of fraud in the past year.
In 2021 alone, Quebecers were robbed of more than $30 million.
These official statistics underestimate the scale of the problem, as they only concern fraud reported to the anti-fraud centre. The tip of the iceberg, what!
For the victims, after the fraud begins a real obstacle course. Most never see the color of their money again. This is the case of Dominic Trudel, a construction contractor, who recently fell victim to a “new kind” scam.
“The fraudster called me pretending to be an anti-fraud agent from Desjardins, and he asked me to make a bank transfer to myself as part of a routine check,” explains Ms. Trudel.
The latter took the trouble to question his interlocutor to make sure that he was not dealing with a fraudster.
"Everything happened very quickly, the person knew a lot of confidential information about me and my company."
What follows is simple. While the entrepreneur makes the transfer to his own email account, the scammer hacks his Outlook account and cashes the transfer.
“After several months of waiting, National Bank has decided not to cover the loss. The police, although they do their best, can't do anything concrete for me, ”he laments.
Thousands of victims
Every year, thousands of Quebecers have the same nightmare as Dominic. Most of the time it comes with a sense of shame and remorse. Because being the victim of a scam is not trivial. It comes with financial impacts. It leaves psychological and social traces that should not be underestimated.
In recent years, the data of millions of Quebecers have been stolen. We immediately think of the Desjardins case, but other institutions have also had their setbacks. Even the government has not been able to protect its data well. In this context, it becomes clear that more needs to be done to help victims.
In 2022, governments cannot even quantify the magnitude of the financial losses linked to identity theft and fraud. It is not normal.
Police forces must also increase their manpower to counter technological crimes. Right now, most victims are told there is nothing the police can do. That's not normal either.
We should think about setting up a real anti-fraud squad, on which a victim can count when he is caught in the net of a thief.
Perhaps even establish a one-stop shop that would collect evidence, multiply investigations, and collaborate with police forces across the country and even internationally?
It is an ambitious project, it is true. But right now, while the victims are looking for a lifeline in the middle of rough seas, the crooks are lounging on a beach sipping a daiquiri to their health.
Do you find that normal?