Unscrupulous individuals tried to take advantage of the war in Ukraine to defraud generous Canadians, who reported dozens of these scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
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“It’s absolutely awful that the world is doing this. We think that [this war] is probably one of the greatest misfortunes of this century and we find it completely unacceptable,” criticizes Michael Shwec, president of the Quebec section of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which defends the interests of this community.
Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, the Anti-Fraud Center has received 62 reports in connection with this war, according to figures obtained by Le Journal. Among them, six are from Quebec, 13 from Ontario and 27 from unspecified locations.
And that would only be the tip of the iceberg, since the federal agency estimates that only 5% of actual cases of attempted fraud are reported to it.
Nearly half of the reports are linked to three specific schemes, often leveraging the generosity of honest Canadians.
Fake soldiers in need, fake investments, fake charities: crooks without consideration for the suffering of Ukrainians have not lacked creativity in order to profit financially from this humanitarian drama.
These scammers have tried to steal sums of up to $10,000, but the few successful attempts mostly involve amounts under $2,000.
Without being part of the 62 reports, Karine Poisson, says that she came close to becoming a victim of this type of fraud when she was one of the many Quebecers who offered to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the conflict into their homes.
After posting an offer of accommodation on a popular site dedicated to the cause, the resident of Trois-Rivières, in Mauricie, was contacted by email by a person claiming to be a mother in a refugee camp in Moldova.
"She said she was with her daughter who was sick and couldn't fly. She told me that she had lost everything, that she could not eat or wash herself as she wanted. »
The exchanges continued for almost a week and a half.
“There were a lot of details. It really looked real, ”says Ms. Poisson.
When she received an email at 3 a.m. Moldova time, the Trifluvienne began to doubt.
It was his 13-year-old son who was then able to find the IP address of the correspondent who was actually in Nigeria, West Africa.
"I think she was possibly asking me for money," said Ms. Poisson, who testified to warn people against this type of scheme.
Investment fraud (12 reports)
After persuading victims to invest in fake cryptocurrency companies on social networks or websites, the fraudsters tell them that it is impossible for them to withdraw the money due to the situation in Ukraine and international sanctions.
Fraud linked to bogus charities (11 reports)
Most of the victims are contacted via email by fake charities asking them to donate by bitcoin to support the cause of Ukrainians. Some people were also being approached on social media with the same type of trick.
Dating Scheme Fraud (8 reports)
Scammers use fake profiles to try to trick victims in the context of dating on social networks and dating sites. They often pretend to be Ukrainian soldiers who no longer have access to their bank account to ask them to send money.
Never give in to overly insistent requests for donations, because recognized fundraising organizations never put pressure, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If an organization is soliciting a donation, ask for written information about the donation, including name, address and phone number. A legitimate charity will tell you about its mission, how donations will be used, and explain that a donation is tax deductible.
Ask for the organization's registration number and check its validity with the Canada Revenue Agency, or at 1 800 267-2384.
Beware of cryptocurrencies! Charities never accept this form of payment.