Misinformation abounds during the COVID-19 crisis, and scammers never rest either. For them, this is just one more opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting targets.

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is warning the public to be cautious against coronavirus scams. Cyber-fraud, financial scams, fake CRA phone calls and other crimes remain all around us, but criminals are now also capitalizing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fraud costs Canadians millions of dollars and criminals shouldn’t get away with it. If you call us and pass on information on a fraudulent crime, we guarantee you will be totally anonymous, never go to court and could be eligible for a cash reward.” 

 Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.

The Canadian Fraud Centre is maintaining a national running list of COVID-19 scams which so far includes:

  • Utility companies threatening to disconnect power for non-payment.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) selling fake lists of COVID-19 infected people living near you.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada allegedly asking for your health card and credit card numbers for a COVID-19 prescription.
  • Charities like the Red Cross offering free medical products (e.g. masks) for a donation.

International agencies, such as INTERPOL, has also issued warnings against scams, including:

  • Fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email addresses – offers of masks and other medical supplies for sale have sprung up online. Unsuspecting victims who order from fraudulent ones never get their goods and see their money disappear.
  • Impersonating legitimate companies - using similar names, websites, email addresses and messages on social media platforms. This includes the World Health Organization (WHO) which has issued a warning of its own.
  • Fake charity appeals - attempts to get the recipient’s money allegedly to fund vaccine for children in China. There is no vaccine yet for the novel coronavirus.
  • Telephone fraud – Interpol says criminals may call pretending to be clinic or hospital officials and claim that a relative of the victim has the virus and needs money for medical treatment.
  • Phishing – emails claiming to be from national or global health authorities ask victims to provide financial details, or open an attachment containing malware.