Recovery Scams

What is a recovery scam?

Whether you have been the victim of a scam or not, the first thing anyone would do after losing money is to try and get it back. Scammers know this and intentionally target scam victims with the promise to recover their lost funds for a fee. Once the fee is paid, the (now twice) victimized will never hear from them again. Fraudsters even keep lists of scam victims and sell them to other bad actors.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) reported Canadians lost $569M to fraud in 2023. This is likely understated as they estimate only 5-10% of victims actually report fraud. This makes recovery scams a popular method for fraudsters (with $1.7M in crypto alone lost in recovery scams in 2023) and something all Canadians should be aware of to protect themselves.

How do I recognize a recovery scam?

Scammers pretend to work for the CAFC, police, government agencies, financial regulators, and investor protection agencies. They might contact you over the phone, through a text message or email, or in person at your front door. If someone has contacted you with a pitch to recover your funds it’s likely a scam, especially if they demand payment upfront. If you have been the victim of a scam, be aware you can absolutely be targeted again.

How can I protect myself?

Being skeptical means being safe.

  • Do not pay for recovery services upfront, especially when payment is demanded through cryptocurrencies, gift cards, e-transfers, and other cash-based means. Cash and cryptocurrency are hard to track which makes them a prime tool of fraud.
  • Don’t be afraid to come across as rude by hanging up, not responding, or asking for identification.
  • Be aware your personal information may have been bought and sold. If someone over the phone knows your name, address and the amount of money you lost in the original fraud, it doesn’t mean they’re legitimate.
  • Check out our resources on how to protect yourself against fraud, how to identify the warning signs of fraud, and how to stay safe on the internet.
  • Contact CIRO the moment you suspect investment fraud.

Being the victim of a scam is an emotional time which fraudsters will try to exploit. Ask a trusted family member or friend for a second opinion and contact police or CIRO anytime you suspect fraud is taking place.

I’ve been scammed, what can I do?

The fact is, investment and financial scammers can be located anywhere in the world and operate anonymously. It can be difficult to recover funds. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud we want to help start your return to normalcy.

You can also report the fraud immediately to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.