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Frauds and Scams

Frauds and Scams

Written by Shanie Levin


On February 16th the Jewish Seniors Alliance in partnership with COSCO and L’Chaim Adult Day Centre sponsored the program “Frauds and Scams.” This event took place at the JSA offices at the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House, 800 East Broadway. The program was accessible both in person and via Zoom. About 50 people participated, the majority remotely.

The purpose was to investigate the ways in which fraudsters deceive people, especially seniors, in order to rob them of their money and possessions. The question is what are the main types of scams, and how can we protect ourselves?

Gyda Chud, coordinator of the JSA program committee welcomed the participants. Gyda reminded everyone of the motto of JSA, “Seniors Stronger Together”. She introduced Barb Mikulec, of COSCO, who in turn introduced the guest speaker, Patrick Harkness. Harkness, had, before retirement in 1999, worked for the provincial government in the Dept. Of Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Harkness is a volunteer, one of many, who present workshops on topics important to the senior community through COSCO’s Health and Wellness Institute.

Harkness outlined the many types of scams perpetrated on seniors and mentioned that millions of dollars have been lost through the schemes of fraudsters, who take advantage of trusting, isolated and vulnerable senior citizens. The approaches can be made by numerous methods including phone, e-mail, regular mail and even in person, depending on the type of scam involved. He warned that one should not respond to un-familiar phone calls or e-mail requests and that one should not open attachments included with these requests. Never give out personal information or send money. If the information provided sounds too good to be true, then very likely, it is not true.

He outlined the most common scams as follows:

  1.  Stealing photos from dating sites and engaging in a trusting relationship. Do not send money or photos as these can be used to blackmail you.
  2.  E-mails or calls from the federal government indicating that you owe money and should forward it ASAP. Do not respond and report the information.
  3.  Purchases on line are usually fake unless you have ordered the item.
  4.  Do not respond to calls claiming they are CRA agents—they do not call.
  5.  Prize scams—you cannot win a prize for a contest that you have not entered.
  6.  Free vacation—if you do respond, by law you have ten days to cancel.
  7.  Do not buy lottery tickets by phone.
  8.  Fake bank investigators that ask you meet with them in a neutral place to give them money.
  9.  Grandparent or nephew scam—claiming you must pay bail money to free the relative. They often have the person’s name. Be careful to check with your relative. You will find that they are fine.
  10.  Offers to fix your computer—it is not broken. One of many Internet scams.
  11.  Be wary of scams involving cheap prescription drugs. Never give those offering the item your VISA number.
  12.  Charity scams—be careful as they may say it is for Ukrainian relief but be sure to check the reputable charities.
  13.  Home repairs—they may come to your door offering their services. Be sure to check with Better Business Bureau to make sure they are licensed and legitimate.
  14.  Identity theft—very common and dangerous. They may try to get your SIN (Social Insurance Number) and other identifying information from old mail that you have thrown out. Please shred these items.

Do not carry around a lot of personal info or leave your purse unattended; chose PINS carefully, so they are not obvious, i.e., do not use birthdates or family names. If you do fall victim to a scam, report it immediately to the police and also to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501. COSCO’s Seniors’ Health and Wellness Institute has produced a handout that was updated in Feb. 2022 and is available below or through their website,

Harkness’ talk and Power Point presentation was interesting and stimulating. Shanie Levin, of the JSA Program Committee, thanked the speaker for his instructions and advise. Many people were eager to engage the speaker in conversation during the coffee time.

Cosponsored by COSCO and L’Chaim Adult Day Centre.


Download a useful handout about Frauds and Scams – CLICK HERE


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