There has been a spike in COVID-19 related scams since early April, according to the Alberta RCMP K Division, with the most common reports citing fraudulent merchandise sales and phishing emails.
"The fraudulent merchandise sales frequently involve the sale and/or giveaway of health-related products such as facemasks and COVID-19 tests," read a press release from the RCMP. "There are also 'free' products being advertised where the victim must pay a fake shipping fee."
The phishing emails impersonate various agencies, including the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and others. Typically, the press release stated, individuals are contacted through email or SMS and provided a link which prompts them to fill out personal and banking information. In some cases, the link contains suspected malware.
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Other scams involve individuals being advised of fake positive test results, donation campaigns, door-to-door decontamination services and self-assessment surveys.
The RCMP said tips to remember if you are contacted by a potential scammer include not giving out personal or financial details if you did not initiate the call, not clicking on suspicious links or attachments, installing anti-virus software and being skeptical of emails – even if they look legitimate.
Other tips include checking the 'from' address by hovering over the name and checking the Canadian anti-fraud website for a list of reported scams.
"We encourage anyone who receives these texts or emails to go online and report them to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre," the release stated.
The anti-fraud centre can be found here.
"If you have been the victim of a fraud, report it to your local police service and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online," the release stated. "You should also contact your bank and credit card company if you believe your personal or financial information has been compromised."