Call it the ultimate counter-cyclical business sector. Canada’s Competition Bureau is warning people that cheaters, fraudsters and hucksters generally do brisk business during recessions and not to expect this downturn to be any different. “We expect businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized ones, and consumers to be more vulnerable to scams as they look to minimize expenses in the midst of an economic downturn,” says Melanie Aitken, the bureau’s interim commissioner of competition. According to Douglas Simpson, president of the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus, the trend is already well under way. “We are witnessing an immediate and disturbing increase in fraud,” he says. Officials say Canadian should expect the number of dodgy bankruptcy and credit repair operations, as well as fraudulent career placement services and work-at-home schemes, to be on the rise during the recession.