Overseas fraud: an increasing threat to the safety of Canadians

Common types of scams

Although most Canadians are now aware of fraud attempts carried out by companies or individuals in foreign countries, especially in Africa, many Canadians are still victimized and cheated out of merchandise, services and money. Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Algeria, Guinea, Senegal, Jamaica and Benin are some of the countries where fraud is a popular and lucrative activity.

Common types of commercial or professional scams include

Other types of personal scams include

Scams can not only cause considerable financial losses, but many of them can also be a serious threat to the personal safety of the victims. Many victims are convinced to travel to an African country to complete a business transaction, accept a job, get married or to try to recover money sent to the con artist. Some cases have resulted in violent situations, including kidnappings and forced imprisonment. Canadian consular officials are often limited in the assistance they can provide to the victims.

Warning: increasingly common and sophisticated scams

Every day, new cases are reported in which Canadians have requested consular assistance after having their safety compromised by a scam. It is predicted that the number of victims will continue to rise. In many countries, con artists operate without consequences because local authorities often do not have the physical or financial resources needed to combat Internet crimes.

Organized fraud networks are developing more and more innovative and sophisticated approaches to deceive their victims and to extort small or large amounts of money. The criminals conduct extensive searches to create credible documents: complete profiles of fictitious businesses, medical reports, falsified export certificates, etc. The names and logos of reputable organizations, governments and government agencies are often used fraudulently. Websites that appear very authentic are also falsified.

Another type of overseas fraud involves con artists falsely representing themselves as Canadian embassy staff, such as consular officers and even ambassadors. If you are approached by someone claiming to work for a Canadian government office abroad who offers you unsolicited assistance, verify the identity of the individual by contacting the embassy or consulate where he or she claims to be employed.

How can you protect yourself?

Any unsolicited business proposal should be carefully examined before you send any money, provide a service or merchandise, or make travel arrangements.

Be cautious when you are travelling to meet individuals met on the Internet.

We strongly recommended that you stay informed of current types of scams by conducting regular Internet searches.

How can you get help?

Do not hesitate to contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to call our Emergency Watch and Response Centre at 613‑996‑8885 (collect calls are possible from certain countries) if:

The Government of Canada cannot intervene in private legal affairs, and has no influence over another country’s legal proceedings. However, officials from the nearest Canadian government office abroad can provide you with a list of lawyers in the country in question. For more information on the services offered by Canadian consular officials, visit our Assistance page.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can also provide information to help you.

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