Scam artists are busy at work trying to separate folks from their money through new COVID-19 related schemes.
Constable Richard Wright said while Surrey Mounties had not been inundated with complaints, at least before press time, “We want everyone to be aware of the scams.”
Crime Stoppers on Tuesday issued a public warning about some of the scams out there, which in particular target the elderly.
These include “duct cleaning companies” offering services or filters that allegedly protect people from the coronavirus, “utility companies” threatening to disconnect power for non-payment, people claiming to be representatives of centres for disease control or the World Health Organization hawking fake lists of people infected with COVID-19 who are living near you, and fake offers for COVID-19 testing which is only done by health authorities.
Some scammers claiming to be with the “Public Health Agency of Canada” have been contacting people asking for health card and credit card numbers for COVID-19 prescriptions. Others claim to be with charities such as Red Cross, offering medical gear or masks for a “donation,” or are going door-to-door, selling household “decontamination” services.
Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis is also the executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.
“Fraud is as much a crime as any other, yet only five per cent of the tips Crime Stopppers receive relate to fraudulent crime,” Annis said. “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.”
For more information, Crime Stoppers can be reached at 1-800-222-8477, or online at solvecrime.ca
Meantime, Corporal Daniel Michaud of the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime, also noted British Columbians are being targeted by scam artists who are trying to make a buck on people’s fear and their desire to protect themselves from the virus. This comes in the form of websites selling bogus products, and fraudsters using fake emails, text messages and social media posts as a ruse to get at victims’ cash and personal information.
“The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighbourhood,” Michaud noted. “They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, offering protective gear or detection kits, or fake home sanitizing services.”
Michaud noted there are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat COVID-19 or prevent infection.
“The current forecast to have efficient vaccines available for the general public is months away and will be communicated via legitimate government and health authorities,” he said.