October 19th, 2020

Police warning public to be on lookout for COVID-19 scams


By Jensen, Randy on April 7, 2020.

LETHBRIDGE HERALD

Lethbridge Police are urging people to be aware of scams related to COVID-19.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre advises citizens that common COVID-19 scams involve fraudsters posing as:

– 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 been tested positive for COVID-19 tricking you into confirming your health card and credit card numbers for a prescription;

– Red Cross and other known charities offering free medical products (e.g. masks) for a donation;

– Government departments sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails tricking you into opening malicious attachments tricking you to reveal 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;

– Door-to-door sales people selling household decontamination services;

– Private companies offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale. Only health-care providers can perform the tests. No other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate results; and

– Selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease. Unapproved drugs threaten public health and violate federal laws.

The public is urged to protect themselves and be aware of:

– Spoofed government, health-care or research information;

– Unsolicited calls, emails and texts giving medical advice or requesting urgent action or payment. If you didn’t initiate contact, you don’t know who you’re communicating with;

– Never respond or click on suspicious links and attachments;

– Never give out your personal or financial details;

– Unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims, products or research. Don’t be pressured into making a donation. Verify that a charity is registered;

– High-priced or low-quality products purchased in bulk by consumers and resold for profit. These items may be expired and/or dangerous to your health;

– Questionable offers, such as: miracle cures; herbal remedies; vaccinations; faster testing; and

– Fake and deceptive online ads, including: cleaning products; hand sanitizers; other items in high demand.

In addition, some agencies in Alberta are also seeing an uptick in romance scams as more people self-isolate or work from home. In romance scams, fraudsters use fake profiles on social media and dating apps to gain the trust of their victims over a period of time before stealing from them.

For more resources about COVID-19 scams, the Better Business Bureau has also complied a variety of information to help citizens recognize fraud and prevent themselves from becoming a victim at https://www.bbb.org/ca/news/scams.

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