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Ontario Provincil Police Serious Fraud Office
The Ontario Provincial Police Serious Fraud Office is responsible for investigating cases of serious fraud and complex financial crimes. Constable Erin Fraser and Constable Lisa Cruz from the Crime Prevention Team at the Serious Fraud Office want to educate communities across Ontario about current scams and how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.
ONTARIO’S CURRENT FRAUD TRENDS AND HOW THEY WORK
The standard frauds are still occurring in Ontario, but over the past few months fraudsters have been exploiting the current public health crisis and are coming up with new ways to steal your money or personal information every day. Fraudsters are using a few things to their advantage:
First, many people are still isolated and often alone and don’t have the same support systems around them like they usually do. Second, everyone is on their devices and online even more than usual. Many may be more inclined to click on email or text message links and since people have spent more time than usual at home, they may be inclined to do home renovations or enticed by great deals for big ticket items advertised online. Third, many people fear getting the virus or giving it to others and it’s possible to get caught up in the hype of buying pandemic-related items, especially online. Finally, unfortunately many people’s jobs and personal finances have been affected. An opportunity to make money or obtain a loan may be appealing for people who are trying to support themselves or their family in this difficult time.
SCAMS RELATED TO COVID-19
The OPP work closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). The CAFC collect information on fraud and identity theft and are a great resource for information on past and current scams affecting Canadians. The CAFC maintains a list of reported COVID-19 related frauds on their website that anyone can visit. To see the full list you can visit: (https://antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/features-vedette/2020/covid-19-eng.htm)
Below are a few COVID-19 scams that everyone should watch out for.
CLICKING LINKS OR ATTACHMENTS
Scammers are sending emails and text messages that appear to be from legitimate businesses. These messages are advising that your account has become inactive due to COVID-19 and requesting that you to click a link to update important personal information.
WORKING FROM HOME
Scams being presented as work-from-home opportunities are being sent to potential victims. They are offered a job promising easy money with little effort. Then they are asked to receive money and told to transfer the money to another account, keeping a portion of the money as a payment. In other cases, a scammer may request you to send money to the account of someone who is fighting COVID-19.
LOAN AND FINANCIAL SERVICE COMPANIES
Loan scams are increasing as people try to get back on their feet after being out of work during the pandemic. Fraudsters have been posing as bank officials, loan specialists or government agents offering loans, debt consolidation and financial assistance.
Scammers are looking to take advantage of you by offering fast COVID-19 test kits being sold by a private company. Similar to cleaning products and Miracle Oils claiming to protect you from the virus, these tests may not be genuine.
FAKE TEST RESULTS
Fraudsters are looking catch you off guard with a phone call, posing as someone from a public health agency. They will say that you have tested positive for COVID-19. These scammers trick you into providing personal information such as your health card and credit card numbers.
Keep an eye out for large ticket items being advertised online at incredible deals. In reality, these items are not delivered or are delivered but are of poor quality.
Reports of fraudsters claiming to be from legitimate organizations such as the World Health Organization, requesting donations to help fight COVID-19.
TIPS ON HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF
HOW DO YOU REPORT A FRAUD?
Fraud can happen to anyone, especially during a time where many people are so vulnerable. The Serious Fraud Office encourages everyone to report any incident online or by phone to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and to their local police service.
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