Founded in 2021, CyberAI is a Toronto-based for-profit, social enterprise, fintech startup dedicated to protecting families and small businesses, especially vulnerable communities, from fraud and scams… both online AND offline. We compete in the growing Fraud Detection, Prevention, and Education space within the constantly evolving Cybersecurity industry.
We are especially concerned about the digital welfare of the elderly, newcomers, and international students in Canada who may be unfamiliar with new cultures, languages, and technologies.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), reported fraud and scams for the period of 2020 through 2022 increased 415 per cent, from $130 million to $530 million.
We find this statistic astounding, especially since CAFC denotes only five to 10 per cent of Canadians report these incidents. Reasons for not reporting include fear, shame, and embarrassment.
Our Management Team
We are extremely proud of our four co-founders’ unique talents and diversity and how we came together organically. Our management team consists of a person with a disability, a woman, and two persons of color. We currently hold the titles of CEO, Chief Marketing/Operations Officer, VP of IT, and VP of Business Development.
Three years ago, we met as participants in Seneca Polytechnic’s HELIX Innovation and Entrepreneurship incubator. We were pursuing two different ideas, but our HELIX coach, Shelly Markel, believed we could create synergy by combining our two business ideas, both of which were cybersecurity related.
Within two years, our partnership has produced both online AND offline fraud detection and prevention solutions for consumers and small businesses. We started generating revenue this past summer and are forecasting profitability by early 2024. To date, we have also been awarded $17,000 in grants and self-funded the rest of our investment.
Our Corporate Values
The cornerstone values guiding us are based on the concepts of inclusiveness and diversity, ensuring everyone feels welcome and valued. These values were designed for internal use, but we also extend and apply them to all of our outward-facing clients and contacts.
- Trust: We believe in each other, ensuring a cohesive and transparent work environment.
- Respect: We acknowledge and embrace every idea that generates benefits to the team.
- Excellence: We aim high and continuously strive for the very best in all we do.
- Individual Fulfillment: We provide an environment where personal and professional growth and opportunity can thrive.
- Profitable Growth: We will attain necessary financial independence, but will achieve it ethically and responsibly.
Our mission is to be a transformative leader within the fraud detection, prevention, and education segment for online AND offline markets within the Cybersecurity industry by building a safer, healthier internet ecosystem for consumers and small businesses.
Through our product offerings: ScamBLOX© Plus and Cyber Ollie, our goal is to flatten this explosive and seemingly unending growth. We pledge to reduce people’s risks while increasing their peace of mind as they learn to avoid becoming scam victims.
Tell us about yourself?
Having lost my sight to illness 35 years ago, I am now an entrepreneur, retired marathon runner, and pioneer in cyber fraud detection, prevention and education. I credit my blindness with teaching me how to “see things differently.”
After coming to grips with losing my vision, I realized I would not be driving a truck anymore! I returned to university to complete my studies, where I earned an Honor’s bachelor’s degree from New York University and an Honor’s master’s degree from George Washington University.
My management expertise comes from 25 plus years as a database and application security analyst with Verizon in the U.S. After moving to Toronto over five years ago, I enhanced my existing skills through post-graduate Honor’s studies in Cybersecurity, Fintech, and IT-Project Management from York University and Seneca Polytechnic.
Entrepreneurship is not entirely new to me. 25 years ago, during the dotcom boom, I co-founded the award-winning AbleTV.net; the first web-based multimedia company to provide fully accessible interfaces for archived and live video streaming.
I have also supported my community for many years as a member of Lions Clubs International at both local and regional levels.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I’d tell myself to have a well-structured set of detailed policies, guidelines, and procedures for various business functions right from the start that could be tweaked as we moved forward. In reality, we ended up creating these documents after we encountered new issues needing immediate resolution.
Regardless of the excellence of a product or service, it’s crucial to have a meticulously thought-out business plan for maximum market penetration and profitability to avoid costly missteps.
What problem does your business solve?
- The Problem: Have you or anyone you know, a friend, family member, or business, ever been a victim of a fraud or scam? The problem is consumers and businesses fail to recognize potentially dangerous websites and cyber criminals, leading to the explosive growth in cybercrimes. In addition to the Canadian statistics previously mentioned, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported fraud and scams have increased 72 per cent from $5.1B to $8.8B from 2020 through 2022.
- The Question: With the multitude of so-called cybersecurity “solutions” available to the public, why are these figures still growing at such an alarming and exponential rate? Unlike our competition that only sells online solutions and fails to address equally expensive offline fraud and scams, CyberAI’s solution is to attack these issues with a unique two-pronged approach. We provide equal attention and importance to helping people avoid becoming victims of both online AND offline fraud and scams.
- About ScamBLOX© Plus: ScamBLOX© Plus is an online browser extension solution that works with 95 per cent of browsers and 99 per cent of operating systems, including Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. It proactively recognizes dangerous websites and cyber criminals, at very reasonable annual costs per device. This enables users to check emails, social media, and surf the web with greater safety and peace of mind. Using a three-level protection model, which includes our proactive identification process, ScamBLOX© Plus recognizes known online frauds. In addition, it determines and warns you about potentially dangerous websites and cyber criminals.
- About Cyber Ollie: For traditional fraud and scams not solvable by technology, our “offline” solution is Cyber Ollie. He is both a real-life rescue schnoodle and an animated educational guide. As Director of Paws (Protection Against Worldwide Scams) his goal is to inform and educate users on how to identify and reduce their risk of online AND offline fraud and scams. Cyber Ollie’s mission is to engage the community in raising awareness to reduce incidents of fraud and scams, through edutainment-based animated YouTube videos on his channel: www.youtube.com/@scambloxcyberollie. His common sense solutions include wisdom, case studies, and community engagement. He also educates people through in-person community events and his upcoming book, “Cyber Ollie’s Ultimate Guide to Fraud and Scams: Save Grandma… and Maybe Grandpa, Too!”
What is the inspiration behind your business?
CyberAI has grown from two different directions. Two of our co-founders established a grass-roots community outreach initiative known as Blockers of Scam, which provided proof of concept in a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concerned with fraud detection.
Along with one of the co-founders, my wife Suzanne and I were also members of Seneca Polytechnic’s HELIX Innovation and Entrepreneurship Incubator. We had a more advanced enterprise business solution still in the ideation stage. At the suggestion of our mutual HELIX coach, we partnered to become CyberAI.
We broadened our original scope of coverage with our commercially available solutions for the fraud detection and prevention markets to include browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, other Chromium-based browsers, and soon to be released Safari iOS. This solution, known as ScamBLOX© Plus reduces the risks of users falling victim to online fraud and scams.
Our big a-ha moment was when we realized through surveys and personal interviews that:
“People don’t want to hear from other people trying to help save them from themselves… but they will likely listen to a talking dog!”
Cyber Ollie, through the sale of his upcoming book and informative YouTube channel videos, enlightens and brings awareness to the myriad of challenges and problems posed by traditional (offline) fraud and scams. Through common sense, wisdom, experiences, and case studies, he offers actionable insights and solutions so people so people can be their own hero by learning to save themselves from becoming fraud victims.
What is your magic sauce?
The uniqueness of CyberAI lies in our comprehensive two-pronged approach. Unlike most solutions that solely focus on online threats, we bridge the gap between online and offline fraud, ensuring well-rounded protection for our clients.
With both ScamBLOX© Plus and Cyber Ollie as part of our fraud fighting arsenal, we help protect people and businesses from as many fraud and scam attacks as possible.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
CyberAI’s vision is to be a recognized, transformative leader within the global fraud detection, prevention, and education markets as a for-profit, social enterprise, fintech organization within the cybersecurity industry within three years.
We will accomplish this goal by reducing our clients’ risk profiles against fraud, scams, and other criminal activities. We plan to eventually expand our product offerings to include an AI solution to the challenges of privileged access credential abuse occurring within the banking and financial services industry for enterprise companies.
Our overall exit strategy is to be acquired within five years after designing, developing, and implementing our various solutions to private and public businesses, as well as consumers to the problems associated with fraud, scams, and other financial crimes.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Our most significant challenge has been to address the human aspect of cybersecurity. Recognizing that people often struggle to take ownership of online fraud and scam issues, especially in personal settings, we had to find a unique approach.
It is well-documented through many studies that the human factor is the weakest link in any cybersecurity strategy or posture. In a business environment, it is easy to pass blame on to someone other than yourself, but that doesn’t apply when it comes to one’s personal space.
You, and you alone, must bear responsibility and seek knowledge and resolution. Thus…Cyber Ollie and his wise, friendly, and nonjudgmental approach was created to help bridge this communication gap.
How can people get involved?
Engage with Cyber Ollie’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/@scambloxcyberollie to learn from his edutainment videos. While you’re there, please subscribe and comment!
Purchase his book on Amazon (available by October) to learn even more actionable insights against fraud, especially as they relate to how we can best protect our seniors.
Secure an annual subscription to ScamBLOX© Plus at www.scamblox.io, proven to decrease your risk and increase your peace of mind against online fraud threats.
Read my weekly LinkedIn articles about how fraud and scams can rock your world, and NOT in a good way, at www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-pledger-00a25413.
Any individual, family, or business seeking robust protection against fraud and scams should reach out.
Whether you’re keen on collaboration, affiliate partnerships, becoming a subscriber, or even exploring community outreach opportunities, we’re open to discussion.
I look forward to your interaction and broadening my outreach. Together, we can redefine cybersecurity, making it accessible, comprehensive, and universal… for all.