VANCOUVER -- We’ve had to adapt to the realities of the pandemic, and scammers have too, finding newer and even more intricate ways to take our money. The Better Business Bureau just released its list of the 10 riskiest scams of 2020, and those that took advantage of the pandemic topped the list.

COVID-19 has made us even more susceptible to scams. Romance scams, investment scams, even the CRA scam are all still going strong.

“COVID created the perfect storm for scammers,” says Karla Laird with the Lower Mainland BBB. 

Lottery and loan scams took off last year, largely because people had lost their jobs and were desperate for money. Laird says for the victims, such scams promised “almost like a miracle to get you out of the slump that you’re in, or the financial slump that you’re in.” 

The 10 Riskiest Scams of 2020:

1. Advance fee loan

2. Online purchases

3. Home improvement

4. Cryptocurrency

5. Employment

6. Fake invoice/supplier bill

7. Credit cards

8. Phishing

9. Sweepstakes/lottery prizes

10. Counterfeit products

What do the most nefarious ones have in common? They’re all online, Laird says. 

“The fact that many people aren’t as comfortable navigating being online, doing transactions online, communicating online – it really opens up this whole new web of possibilities for scammers,” she says.

Vaccination bookings have also created a new opportunity for fraudsters. Beware of clicking on links in emails promising to help get you a reserved spot to get a shot. It could lead to malware being installed on your computer or be an attempt to steal personal information. 

On average, victims lost $1,400. Men lost more money than women. And there isn’t just the financial fallout to consider. 

According to the BBB, many victims also lost personal information, which could lead to identity theft down the road. That’s added stress. Most lost time recovering from the trauma, and more than half lost confidence in their ability to make decisions. 

Victims also reported suffering from depression, and that losing money caused conflict with their loved ones. 

What can you do to protect yourself? Your gut is your best defence against scammers. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In the U.K., authorities have been pushing the “Take 5” campaign – encouraging people to take time to consider anything before jumping in. Take five minutes, five hours, five days; talk to five friends about it. Thinking it over can mean the difference between becoming a victim and making a smart choice.