Computer Fraud

« Back to Glossary Index

Fraud involves obtaining property or funds from victims by means of rhetoric and propositions. Most of the time, it is a sum of money that the victim pays for something that does not exist. Fraudors love to exploit people’s good nature or greed to their advantage, which increases their chances of success.

Unfortunately, fraudsters have also adapted to modern technology. Technically speaking, computer fraud is the intentional and lawless act of introducing, modifying or deleting data in a computer system or modifying the normal use of this data, with the intention of obtaining an economic benefit.

There are specific forms of computer fraud. Each one has its own typical scenario, almost always the same. Here are the most common ones.

  • Shopping on the internet. Some sellers are not reliable. Sometimes sellers, especially abroad, do not deliver the desired goods, even if they have been paid.
  • Inheritance. In this type of e-mail fraud, the fraudster, pretending to be a foreign official or notary sends a notice. The message states that you have been identified as the heir of a recently deceased person of great wealth and that, in order to collect the inheritance, you must pay a sum of money, supposedly to cover administrative costs.
  • Foreign investments. The fraudster sends out e-mail proposals for investments in exotic projects with promises of huge profits.
  • Lotteries and games of chance. The scammer sends an e-mail notification that you have won a jackpot in a lottery or game of chance. The scammer asks you to pay a fee to receive your prize.
  • Passports, visas and official documents. Fraudsters often send e-mails asking for financial help for someone who needs a passport, visa or other official document because they are going through difficult things, such as war or atrocious living conditions. The money requested would supposedly be used to pay the intermediary responsible for issuing the document.
  • Financial Transactions. This e-mail scam claims that it is possible to collect large profits from a supposedly official organization. You are asked to pay money or send documents. In exchange, you are promised a share of the resulting profits.
  • Internet sales. This scam occurs when you place an ad on the Internet to sell something. You are notified that someone has accepted the offer at the asking price. The scammers have many tricks to make you think they have paid you: they may give you a bad check, for example.

If you would like more information on this topic, the Government of Canada’s Scams Registry is a good place to look.

« Back to Glossary Index