Canadians reportedly lost over $1.2 million in COVID-19 scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the crisis and government efforts to help Canadians to steal information and money

Canadians have lost over $1.2 million CAD to scammers taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks.

According to a CBC News report, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 739 reports since March 6th about attempts to defraud Canadians with pandemic-related scams. The centre says 178 of those attempts succeeded.

Along with scams based on COVID-19, the Anti-Fraud Centre told CBC News it’s seeing attempts to use the pandemic as cover to infect computers with malware.

For example, one scheme sends messages to a victim telling them they’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The scam asks the victim to fill out what appears to be an Excel form with information. However, when the victim enables the content and views the form, it infects their computer with a Trojan downloader and installs malicious files.

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security is seeing attempts to scam Canadians with COVID-19 tactics as well. The centre notes that COVID-19 acts as an effective lure to get victims to visit fake web sites, open email attachments and click on links in text messages.

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has worked with industry to take down 2,000 websites trying to defraud Canadians. Some of those websites pretended to be government organizations, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Most of those agencies are involved in some way with the government’s response to the pandemic. The CRA, for example, is tasked with getting Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments to Canadians. However, scams impersonating the CRA are reaching out to Canadians pretending to help them claim the CERB to try and steal personal information.

A CRA spokesperson told CBC News that the CRA “is not contacting Canadians to claim CERB” and that “any direct communication Canadians receive about applying for the CERB is a scam.”

Ultimately, Canadians should remain vigilant and be wary of any calls, texts or emails related to COVID-19. Specifically, don’t click links sent to you or provide any personal information. If you think something is a scam, you should report it.

Source: CBC News