The OPP reminds residents that fraud routines related to the COVID-19 situation are becoming more common. “Fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of these times,” states an OPP information brief, “and are attempting to profit from consumer fear, uncertainty, and misinformation.”
Criminals, both individuals and members of organized crime, continue using traditional scams to either trick victims into paying for unwanted, unnecessary, or fake goods and services. They are also developing new fraud schemes aimed at exploiting the pandemic situation.
Some of these scams include fake offers from alleged government, healthcare, or research groups for COVID-19 information and protection, unwanted and unsolicited phone calls, emails or text messages offering medical advice. There are also fake charity requests for money to help with product supply programs or research.
Fake “miracle cures” are also common fraud attempts, alleging herbal remedies or immediate testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 infection may be available. Offers of quick delivery of cheap hand sanitizer or sterile masks or other protective gear are also common.
Standard schemes tailored to the pandemic situation include phony demands from utility companies for bill payments. These come with threats to disconnect phone service, electricity, or cease providing heating oil or natural gas during the pandemic period.
The fake Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam also continues, with victims threatened with jail or legal action if they do not provide immediate payment through an online account of an outstanding income tax debt. The CRA does not email or phone citizens about delinquent accounts or demand online payments.
The OPP reminds residents to be wary of any “too good to be true” offers or of any emails or phone calls about overdue accounts which include a demand for personal identification or bank or credit card details as part of the payment option.
Do not respond to these emails or calls. Report them to the local police station.