As the world gears up to curb the spread of COVID-19, scammers are using the pandemic as a new way to take advantage of vulnerable people.
“Scammers play on fears and anxiety to push their scams,” said the Nanaimo RCMP in a press release.
“They brazenly set up fake websites to sell bogus products, use fake emails, texts, and a variety of other fake social media posts, including false testimonials, as a ruse to obtain money and personal information from people.”
The RCMP say scammers are spreading misinformation about COVID-19, offering advice on unproven treatments, protective gear and fake sanitizing services – all in an effort to get a donation from you.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are just a few of the platforms being used to spread this misinformation.
According to the Nanaimo RCMP, Here are six of the most popular scams making their way around the internet
1) FRAUD: Private companies are selling fast COVID-19 tests.
FACT: In Canada, only hospitals can perform the test and no other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate result.
2) FRAUD: Door-to-door solicitors offering fake decontamination services.
FACT: Follow direction of the Provincial Health Authority to decontaminate your home and reduce your personal risk.
3) FRAUD: Fraudsters posing as police have been giving out on-the-spot fines to consumers wearing masks claiming that wearing a mask in public goes against a full-face veil law.
FACT: It is not illegal to wear a mask for health reasons.
4) FRAUD : Fraudsters urge you to invest in hot new stocks related to the virus.
FACT: You should only ever purchase stocks through reputable sources and banking institutions.
5) FRAUD: Fraudsters sending emails, texts or online campaigns that capitalize on the public’s fears about COVID-19.
FACT: Do not respond to unsolicited email, texts or phone calls. Don’t click on any links or provide any information about yourself. If you have any doubts about where the email came from, make sure to check the identity of the sender, and if you receive a suspicious phone call, hang-up.
6) FRAUD: Fraudsters are creating fraudulent and deceptive online ads offering cleaning products, hand sanitizers, other items in high demand
FACT: Buy from companies or individuals you know by reputation or from past experience. Before checking out, make sure you’re still on a reputable website and have not been redirected to a third-party page. Use a credit card when shopping online; many offer protection and may give you a refund.
The Nanaimo RCMP say there have only been a handful of calls reporting scammers asking for donations for COVID-19. These callers stated that through the use of a google search, they were able to confirm the caller was not from a reputable agency and simply hung up the phone. None of these callers lost any money or gave out personal information.
Nanaimo police say there have been a number of reports in the recent weeks of scammers going door to door, offering cleaning services and hot water and water purification kits. While none of these reported incidents were COVID-19 related, the RCMP say it will not be surprising to see this begin.
If you were contacted by someone who you suspect is a scammer and have not lost money or provided any personal information, RCMP are advising you to report the interaction to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, instead of the Nanaimo RCMP.
Anyone who has lost money or divulged personal information to a scammer, either online or in person, can call the non-emergency line of the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345.