Users following the promise of free media streaming services inadvertently signed up to pay $ 49.95 per month (iStock)
The average number of monthly visits to a network of media streaming websites operated by a Barbados-based company in 2020. The websites promise free and unlimited access to movies, e-books and other content.
Users were invited to sign up for a free five-day trial. But, if they read the fine print, they would learn that after the trial expired, their credit cards would automatically be billed US $ 49.95 per month.
In total, the websites have grossed “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to a CBC Radio-Canada survey.
“A lot of people just pay their credit card bills and don’t really look at them,” Steve Baker, Better Business Bureau international investigations specialist, said in a CBC report.
US $ 750,000
The amount that a US company transferred to a fraudulent account after being the victim of a commercial email scam (BEC) when a Canadian company, which was also a target, reported the suspected fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC). Authorities acted quickly and the CAFC teamed up with the U.S. Secret Service, which then suspended the transfer and ultimately rolled back the deal.
BEC scams fall under the category of “spear phishing” and use emails designed to appear to have been sent from a secure and known source. In 2020, the CAFC reported 779 spear phishing victims with losses totaling $ 29.9 million.
Increase in fraud
It turns out that last year’s jarring fraud statistics in Canada – a likely byproduct of the pandemic – were not an anomaly. According to data released by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, while the number of victims of fraud is expected to increase, there has already been a noticeable increase in the financial impact this year compared to 2020.
Get information on CPA Canada’s 2021 fraud forecast and the annual fraud study; as well as the book Uncover Fraud: True Stories About Fraud, Scammers, and How They Got Caught.