01/04/2012 05:46 EST | Updated 03/05/2012 05:12 EST

2011 Top Scammer Targets: Internet, BC Hydro Customers, Gold Sellers

VANCOUVER - The B.C. Better Business Bureau says Internet users and Hydro customers were among the biggest targets of con artists last year.

The bureau has released its list of the top 10 scams of 2011, including web offers of fraudulent virus-fixing software, work-from-home schemes or online auctions that can run up big bills.

Other online schemes include fake messages from financial institutions designed to collect people's personal banking information and ads from locksmiths who don't have local offices and perform poor work at inflated prices.

The bureau says BC Hydro customers worried about smart meters were duped into buying energy-saving equipment that didn't save power and didn't meet safety requirements.

The bureau is also warning about companies demanding advance fees for loans, ripping off consumers trying to sell gold, and tricking seniors into giving up money or paying for unnecessary work.

A perennial scam on the list is aggressive door-to-door salesmen who try to sell everything from alarm systems to home repairs.