Officials Warn COVID-19-Related Scams Are 'Profiting From Fear' & Here's What To Watch For

False and misleading information can be dangerous, the CAFC says.
Staff Writer
Officials Warn COVID-19-Related Scams Are 'Profiting From Fear' & Here's What To Watch For

As the coronavirus spreads across the country, so too are COVID-19-related scams that the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) warns are "[profiting] from consumers' fear." Fraudsters are taking advantage of a sensitive situation to spread misinformation and steal people's money, according to CAFC. While there's no clear way to stop the spread of scams and misinformation, the CAFC highlights that citizens should be especially aware of and dubious of any non-official claims, emails, or communications. 

One of the most troubling scenarios of fraud on Canadian citizens is the sale of fake coronavirus testing kits. The CAFC assures Canadians that the only ones who can perform these tests are hospitals and healthcare professionals. 

The CAFC has also seen a marked increase in the reselling of products like masks and hand sanitizer. Experts warn that in many cases, these resellers might be selling fake or expired products of extremely low quality. 

Scammers have also been found going door-to-door, offering decontamination services. The CAFC says that no health professional or health ministry will conduct such risky tests, especially during times of self-isolation. 

In the United States, government authorities have caught scammers trying to sell fake COVID-19 treatments, marketing them as "cures."

Keep in mind that no such drug has been approved by any public health ministry in any country. 

According to the CAFC, other related scams include:

  • "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 isn't 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."

Government officials warn the public that "anything is on the table" to deal with and prevent the further proliferation of COVID-19.

In Quebec, there are 41 confirmed cases. Across the country, there are 324 confirmed cases, with most in Ontario. 

READ ALSO: Quebec Is Asking Anyone With Experience To Help Out With Healthcare Efforts

The CAFC recommends the following measures to protect yourself from scammers: 

  • "Beware of false or misleading information;"

  • "Contact your insurance provider to answer any health insurance questions;"

  • "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;

    • "other 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."

Information on hygiene practices during the pandemic is available on the Government of Canada's website here.

Stay tuned for more updates on COVID-19 in Montreal. 

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Teddy Elliot
Staff Writer