The vast majority of scams go unreported. No one knows how many people are affected, but I've spoken to many, many people by phone who call me out of the blue looking for advice about dealing with scams. Much of the time they don't realize it's a scam. Lawyers don't normally like these kinds of calls because they're not going to result in work (and might even result in liability for them).

Calls about scams are essentially the same as people calling up plumbers asking for free advice about how to do their own plumbing, or calling up auto garages to ask for advice about fixing an engine. But I'm happy to help out if I can, and feel good about the millions in losses I've helped prevent. I'm positive I've prevented more losses to people calling out of the blue than I've made in legal fees in my decade as a lawyer in private practice.

I've never ended up working for someone who calls about a scam. There's perhaps a niche practice in dealing with this, but there's something sad about charging people who are the victims of scams (or the targets who aren't yet victims). There's also a thriving scam industry online in offering fake services that pretend to offer help to people who are the victims of scams and then re-victimize them.

It would be nice if there was some kind of affordable service to prevent scams, but it's very tricky to try to make such a thing. A friend of mine who's a law prof received a grant to build a service to try to prevent romance scams, but the service wasn't much of a success. Probably the biggest reason why is that people who are under the influence of scammers are far more convinced by the scammer's personal service than the impersonal website. I'm not sure AI can change this much, but it might help if accompanied by videos of fake people speaking. But the personal touch of that anti-scam service would probably be again outweighed by the scammers doing the same thing!

Offering help to victims of scams is bad business as a lawyer, and it isn't really what lawyers do (since they're private businesses), but many lawyers do take to heart the mission aspect of law, which is to help the public. And there's even a bit of personal benefit, in that it helps lawyers to be able to offer better advice to companies that develop anti-fraud procedures and practices. Awareness of scams is important for any business that handles money or cryptocurrency, so in one sense the public mission can also be a private help to the lawyers who do this. Whether or not there's any personal benefit, I think it's a good idea for people to try to do what they can to help the public, who are overwhelmed by scams from abroad that steal probably billions a year from Canadians.