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One in six Canadians has been a victim of fraud, according to Statistics Canada

One in six Canadians has been a victim of fraud, according to Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada, which never asked Canadians before 2019 whether they were victims of fraud, found that this type of crime goes far beyond what police officers know about it: More people said they were victims of fraud than any other type of crime in the 12 months leading up to the survey.

The federal agency is releasing a stream of data on Monday after questions were first raised about fraud experienced by respondents in the 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on the safety of Canadians.

Thus we learned that four years ago, the number of victims of fraud, or 2.5 million people (7.8% of the population aged 15 and over), was higher than the number of victims of all violent crimes combined, namely sexual assault, robbery and assault, which affected just under 1.4 million victims (4.3% of the population).

In fact, fraud ranks first, respectively, ahead of personal property theft, household property theft, violent crime, vandalism, breaking and entering, and auto theft.

If we go beyond the 12 months prior to the survey, we find that one in six people (17% or 5.45 million people over the age of 15) said they had been a victim of fraud in the past five years.

This form of crime is on the rise, according to police data, indicating that the number of scams has nearly doubled in 10 years, rising from more than 87,000 cases in 2011 to more than 168,000 in 2021.

Shame to admit it

However, Statistics Canada’s data lifts the veil on the shame that accompanies the fact that shame exists taken By scammers, because they show that the police see only the tip of the iceberg.

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In Saskatchewan, victims turn to the police the most.

However, we note that victims seek to protect their money more than initiate an investigation, because two-thirds (65%) of fraud victims have reported this to their financial institution.

Losses of $16 billion

It should be noted that most of the victims were not victims.

One in four victims lost about $1,000, but in 3% of cases the loss was at least $10,000, and 0.5% left amounts in excess of $100,000.

In total, the losses incurred by all fraud victims exceeded $16 billion in five years.

When looking at the data by region, we see that Alberta has the highest percentage of fraud victims.

People living in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec were the least likely to be defrauded, with rates ranging between 13% and 14%.

In Canada, losses to all fraud victims exceeded $16 billion in five years.

Photo: Getty Images/damircudic

Wealthy and educated victims

Who are the main victims?

Not surprisingly, higher income is associated with an increased risk of becoming a victim of fraud: 13% of people with incomes of less than $20,000 had been victims of fraud in the five years prior to the survey, compared to 24% of people with incomes of $120,000 or more.

On the other hand, people with a college education were about 2.5 times more likely to report being defrauded than people with a high school diploma.

Indigenous people and Francophones are less affected

In contrast, Aboriginal people showed a lower prevalence of fraud than others. These differences can be explained in part by the social and economic marginalization of the indigenous populationas a Statistics Canada hypothesis.

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Likewise, French speakers were less likely than their Anglophone counterparts to be victims of fraud.

The federal agency notes that this gap holds even when accounting for differences in income or education level.

Statistics Canada gives no explanation for this situation, but it would be difficult to rule out the possibility that the number of fraud attempts was higher in English than in Molière’s.

personal information

Unsurprisingly, police data tells us that the largest number of scams is done by computer (hacking, phishing, etc.) and that this trend is on the rise.

Credit card fraud ranks second, but is declining, while securities or financial fraud, which is on the rise, ranks third.

In almost all reported cases of fraud (90%), fraudsters obtained personal information.

Although nearly half of the victims did not know how their personal information was obtained, those who did said: their credit or debit card was scanned or copied; that access to one of their accounts (online account, email account) has been hacked; that they provided the information themselves; or that the information was obtained as a result of a database breach or data leak.