Scammers looking to capitalize on COVID-19 fears: OPP

Published April 1, 2020 6:16 a.m. ET

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A new piece of sophisticated technology is being used by fraudsters to scam unsuspecting people over the phone. (iStock/Bombuscreative)

LONDON, ONT -- Several types of scams have been identified by provincial police as scammers look to capitalize on people’s fears and concerns around COVID-19.

The OPP is reminding the public to keep an eye out for scams and to think twice before sharing any personal information with anyone you may not know.

“Regardless of the scam type or method, these criminals all have the end goal of stealing your personal information and/or money. Please protect yourself and beware of any unfamiliar communications whether it be a text, a phone call or an email,” said Inspector Rob Scott in a release.

Here are a few examples of some the scams currently going around:

  • Communications through call, text or email camouflaged to appear as originating from legitimate organizations such as police departments asking recipients to share sensitive information such as usernames and passwords or to open malicious attachments or transfer funds.
  • Spreading of malware disguised as a coronavirus map or dashboard.
  • Charitable appeals claiming to help victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and social media posts promoting tips on how to prevent the virus along with false information about cases in your area.
  • Misleading ads or spam regarding masks or other personal protective gear, or other helpful hints to combat the virus. Also watch out for ads selling cleaning products, hand sanitizers and other items in high demand.
  • Requests impersonating essential services, such as a utility company or service asking for funds due to a late or unexpected charge.
  • Demands from agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or police services seeking immediate payment through cryptocurrencies or wire transfer services.
  • Financial advisors pressuring people to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease or offering financial aid and/or loans.

Police are reminding the public to be wary of unsolicited calls, texts, and emails. If anything looks even a little suspicious do not open or respond.

Should you have concerns about any suspicious scams please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) through their online reporting system or toll free at 1-888-495-8501.


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