COVID-19: Beware of fraudsters taking advantage

Scam-alert-2

COVID-19: Beware of fraudsters – In times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it often brings out the best in people. However, it also brings out the worst in people – those who try to take advantage of the the situation for their personal gain. Focusing on people’s fear of the unknown, they target the vulnerable with services, goods, false information and even ‘fast COVID-19 tests for sale’. Our senior population is most at risk to the schemes, but also the general population who in desperation become easy prey for them. Call them what-you-may; crooks, lowlifes, thieves, pilfers or other apt words – they are all the same.

There have also been reports of people being gouged by sellers on online-classified advertising sites. Kijiji Canada had to temporarily ban listings for surgical masks, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes and toilet paper. In a message on their site they wrote, ‘We have been monitoring the community response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada – based on user feedback and to curb pricing practices that run counter to the community-minded spirit of Kijiji’. On Facebook Marketplace, some people were selling small bottles of hand sanitizer for as high as $500. People have reported prices for a case of toilet paper on Craigslist for as high as $100+ and Amazon Canada announced it would be cracking down on resellers and will continue to actively monitor and remove offers violating their policies.

COVID-19: Beware of fraudsters

Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre put out an alert to warn people of fraudsters wanting to profit from consumers’ fears, uncertainties and misinformation. As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, they ask people to be on the lookout for associated scams:

COVID-19: Beware of fraudsters – Examples of COVID-19 fraud

  • Private companies offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale, only hospitals can perform the tests. No other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate results.
  • Consumers are purchasing large amounts of products and reselling them at higher prices. These products may be expired, of lower quality and dangerous to your health.
  • Fraudsters have been going door-to-door offering fake decontamination services.
  • The Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration in the United States have warned of companies selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease. The United States has not approved any such products. The unapproved drugs threaten public health and violate federal laws.
  • Fraudsters posing as police have been imposing on-the-spot fines to consumers wearing masks. They claim that wearing a mask in public goes against a full-face veil law. It is not illegal to wear a mask for health reasons.
  • Fraudsters may urge you to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease.
  • Fraudsters are sending phishing, spear phishing and other malicious email campaigns that capitalize on the public’s fears about Covid-19.
  • Fraudsters are creating fraudulent and deceptive online ads. These ads may offer: cleaning products, hand sanitizers and other items in high demand.

How to protect yourself from Covid-19 fraudsters

  • Beware of high-priced or low-quality products.
  • Beware of unsolicited medical advisory emails with links or attachments.

Fraudsters may spoof the information of government and health care organizations:

  • Beware of: miracle cures, herbal remedies, questionable offers, such as vaccinations, faster tests, etc.
  • Beware of unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims or research.
  • Don’t be pressured into making a donation, verify that a charity is registered.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online.

INTERPOL has also put an alert on COVID-19 fraud schemes:

Scams linked to the virus include: Telephone fraud – criminals call victims pretending to be clinic or hospital official, who claim that a relative of the victim has fallen sick with the virus and request payments for medical treatment. Phishing – emails claiming to be from national or global health authorities, with the aim of tricking victims to provide personal credentials or payment details, or to open an attachment containing malware. In many cases, the fraudsters impersonate legitimate companies, using similar names, websites and email addresses in their attempt to trick unsuspecting members of the public, even reaching out proactively via emails and messages on social media platforms.

Be wary if asked to make a payment to a bank account located in a different country than where the company is located. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, alert your bank immediately so the payment can be stopped. Do not click on links or open attachments that you were not expecting to receive, or come from an unknown sender. Be wary of unsolicited emails offering medical equipment or requesting your personal information for medical checks – legitimate health authorities do not normally contact the general public in this manner.

As stated at the beginning of this article, in times of crisis it can also bring out the worst in people. Be smart, verify information and do not take a chance if you are uncertain. Mostly, stay healthy, protect yourself and others and reach out to those who may need your help during this unprecedented event.

By: Bonnie Wurst – [email protected]

Other articles from mtltimes.ca and totimes.ca

COVID-19: Myths and facts on protecting yourself

COVID-19 Quebec: What you need to know

COVID-19: Trudeau considering federal emergency measures

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email
Is it possible to get an A for a 5-paragraph essay assignment in 1 hour? We can safely say yes, a student can get an A+ mark if he turns to EduJungles


staycation

The ultimate guide to planning a long family staycation in Canada

To guarantee that everyone has an amazing time, careful planning is necessary when organizing a lengthy staycation. Here’s the ultimate guide to planning your family staycation in Canada. Canada, with its vast landscapes, diverse cities, and rich cultural heritage, offers endless possibilities for a memorable family staycation. Whether you’re exploring the stunning natural beauty of

Meal kits

Cost vs. Convenience: Analyzing meal kits and traditional cooking

In this modern world and modern times, convenience often takes priority over cost, especially when it comes to food. Meal kits and traditional cooking represent two different approaches to home dining, and each of them has advantages and disadvantages. Analyzing these methods through the lens of cost and convenience provides insight into why individuals might

Condo renovations

Condo renovations Dos and Don’ts: Expert Tips for a Successful Project

Embarking on a condo renovations journey can be both exhilarating and daunting. Imagine transforming your living space into a stylish haven that reflects your personality and meets your needs. While exciting, the process can be full of challenges and unforeseen hiccups. That’s why we’ve gathered some condo renovation dos and don’ts from the experts to

Terrific Hair

Terrific Hair Means Tamanu – Earth to Body

Curly, straight, thick, thin, kinky or silky, tamanu loves and makes terrific Hair.  And scalps. Nutritionally dense yet gentle, tamanu is an effective and versatile nut oil. It stimulates, helps promote growth. prevents hair loss, reduces scalp itch and irritations and adds a natural sheen! Make tamanu a part of your hair and scalp care

Understanding the 4 legal process after a DUI Crash

A single mistake can have serious consequences, especially when driving under the influence. The aftermath of a DUI crash extends beyond physical harm and property damage. It involves a complex legal process that may feel overwhelming. As a responsible citizen, it’s vital to grasp the legal system and your rights in such situations. This blog

personal injury lawyer

Pedestrian accident: How a personal injury lawyer can help you

Accidents involving pedestrians can be life-altering. You could be walking down the street or crossing a street. A vehicle’s sudden impact can change everything right away. If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, you might be wondering how to move forward. This is where a personal injury lawyer steps in, offering crucial help and

Mtltimes Subscription

The latest on what’s moving Montreal and the world – delivered straight to your inbox