Payment Methods

For this blog post, Get Cyber Safe has partnered with the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC), who, like us, understands how important cyber security is to businesses as well as individuals. This blog presents their perspective, and we thank them for being a dedicated partner in the cyber security of Canadians.

Payment Methods

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Fraud Prevention Month. The theme of this year’s campaign is “20 years of fighting fraud: From then to now. With this theme, we’ll be exploring how certain frauds have evolved with the rise of the digital age, drawing insightful comparisons between the past and present.

This bulletin was prepared to highlight some of the main payment methods fraudsters use today and how they have evolved over the last 20 years.

Bank Wire Transfers

Based on dollar loss in 2023, bank wire transfer was the top method of payment used by fraudsters when requesting money from victims. Bank wire transfer has been common for 20 years and is often used when fraudsters request more than $10,000. Today fraudsters have capitalized on bank wire transfers to foreign jurisdictions. In 2023, the CAFC received reports of wire transfers going to 941 different accounts located in 54 different countries.


Cryptocurrency didn’t exist 20 years ago. Since 2015 the CAFC has documented a major increase in fraud reporting involving cryptocurrencies, and overall amounts lost to these frauds continues to increase yearly. Fraudsters will most commonly request cryptocurrency payments for investment fraud, job frauds, extortion, and romance fraud. Criminals often request cryptocurrency as a payment method because of the difficulty law enforcement generally has in tracing payments when compared with other payment methods.


E-transfers have become a common payment method for Canadians over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, they have also become a common payment method for fraudsters. Criminals frequently request e-transfers for fraud types including rental, merchandise, service, romance, and to fund fraudulent crypto currency accounts in crypto investment fraud. Criminals also send fake e-transfer emails targeting Canadians selling items as a method to convince them that a payment has been sent. Fraudsters may ask victims to deposit e-transfers in their personal bank accounts and then ask them to transfer the funds elsewhere as part of a job fraud. Victims may not be aware that the e-transfers are being sent by other victims of another type of fraud. In this case, victims may be unknowingly assisting with money laundering – also referred to as being a “money mule.”

Other observations

  • Money Service Businesses (MSBs) were one of the top payment methods used by fraudsters 20 years ago. These services continue to be used by criminals.
  • Cash sent in the mail or in person continues to be reported and is most commonly related to emergency-grandparent fraud and prize fraud.
  • Based on numbers of reports received in 2023, credit cards remain the top payment method for merchandise frauds.
  • In many cases, suspects send fraudulent cheques to victims, asking them to deposit the cheques and transfer the funds elsewhere before the fraudulent cheque has cleared the victim’s bank account.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Be careful when sending cryptocurrency; once the transaction is completed, it is very unlikely to be reversed.
  • If you receive funds from an unknown individual or company for any reason and are asked to forward it elsewhere - DON’T! You could be breaking laws when you are acting as a money mule.
  • Never send cash in the mail under any circumstance.
  • When shopping online, always use a payment method that offers fraud protection (credit card).
  • Be cautious when accepting a cheque as a payment. There’s a chance the cheque will return (bounce) and you will be responsible to repay the full amount.
  • If you’re a business owner, put detailed payment procedures in place, including verbal authentication, for any urgent requests or changes in payment details.

Visit the CAFC online to learn more tips and tricks for protecting yourself.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the CAFC’s online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. If not a victim, report it to the CAFC anyway.

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