In April 2020, the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre and the Better Business Bureau received 12,900 reports of fraud nationwide – an increase of 9,000 reports from the same month a year prior. (Pixabay)

Fraud reports spiked by nearly 45% in April as scammers take advantage of pandemic

COVID-19 an opportunity for scammers to put new spin on old tricks, police warn

Fraudsters are continuing to put a new spin on their old tricks as British Columbians adapt to the various changes to daily life brought on by COVID-19.

In April, the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre and the Better Business Bureau received 12,900 reports of fraud nationwide – an increase of 9,000 reports from the same month a year prior.

In recent months, one of more notable Canada Emergency Response Benefit cheque scams caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who warned Canadians during a live news conference that government agencies will never contact citizens through social media websites or text messages.

That scam involves the fraudster sending a text message to victims indicating that the recipient has received a deposit for CERB from the government, directing them to to click an attached link.

Other common scams include what police call the “utility services or phone/internet company scam,” which falsely notifies the victim that they have received a refund and can access the funds by clicking a link.

Fraudsters have also been bilking people by deliberately disguising their phone number to appear on caller ID in order to hide their identity, and trick victims into thinking they are part of a legit company.

The RCMP are reminding people to take precautions and do the following to prevent becoming the victim of a scam:

  • Hand up the phone right away if you get a suspicious call. Do not follow the prompts.
  • Do not respond to the calls or text messages to unknown or suspicious phone numbers. Research the company contact information independently and call the company to confirm.
  • Do not click on attached links. They may lead you to fake websites.
  • Do not give out your personal or financial information through the phone or text messages.
  • Do not respond to robocallers prompting you to push a number to be placed on a do not call list.

If you fall victim to fraud call your local police, Mounties urged, and offer any evidence you have of the incident including phone numbers, email addresses and screenshots of the interaction.

To report a scam you didn’t fall victim to visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website or email info@antifraudcentre.ca.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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