As the number of COVID-19 cases grows, so does the list of scams deployed by fraudsters preying unsuspecting victims.
Fraudsters are working hard to extort money and personal information from “fearful, trusting victims,” warn OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
And they are urging people to protect themselves in order to avoid being defrauded.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread across Ontario and Canada, fraudsters are taking advantage of citizens’ fear during uncertain times,” the OPP said in a statement released Wednesday. “Fraudsters are exploiting this pandemic to facilitate fraud through cybercrime and any other means to obtain your information.”
Police said such criminals typically use “time sensitive circumstances” to make victims feel they must act urgently and give up their personal and financial information.
“Many of the reports have a medically-related theme in order to instantly set further anxiety in order to gain information,” police said. “From spoofed government, health care or research companies, to unsolicited calls, emails and texts giving medical advice or requesting urgent personal information, scammers are looking at gaining information about you during these times.”
According to the CAFC, some of the more popular scams are:
— Cleaning or heating companies offering duct cleaning services or air filters to protect from COVID-19
— Local and provincial hydro/electrical power companies threatening to disconnect your power for non-payment
— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization offering fake lists for sale of COVID-19 infected people in your neighbourhood
– Public Health Agency of Canada giving false results, saying you have tested positive for COVID-19 with and eye to tricking you into confirming your health card and credit card numbers for a prescription
– Red Cross and other known charities offering free medical products, such as masks, for a donation
– Government departments sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails tricking you into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details
– Financial advisors pressuring people to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease offering financial aid and/or loans to help you get through the shutdowns
– Private companies offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale or selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease