As more and more Canadians register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is warning people to avoid purchasing vaccines online or from unauthorized sources.
“People are looking to get the vaccine. They want to return to normal sooner than later. So like other frauds, these frauds are playing on emotion,” Jeff Thomson, Senior RCMP Intelligence Analysts at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, told Global News.
The CAFC is also reminding Canadians of the dangers of purchasing potential counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines from private companies to treat or prevent the disease.
“If you are buying unapproved vaccines from fraud websites you are running some serious health risks if you are going to inject yourself with these,” Thomson said.
Coronavirus-themed emails and text messages are also targeting unsuspecting victims.
Fraudsters are using tactics to trick people into installing malicious COVID-19 notification apps and attachments, the anti-fraud centre reported.
Scammers then use these tools to gain access to sensitive personal and financial information. In addition, unsolicited calls are circulating with claims from private companies or health-care providers offering home vaccination kits for an upfront fee.
“One report we have is someone received a call saying if you donate to a charity you can jump the queue,” Thomson said. “So it’s certainly a big concern.”
The CAFC says the only way to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is through clinics organized or endorsed by your local public health authority in collaboration with Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments.
“It’s really important that consumers and people go to the legitimate government website to find out who’s being vaccinated in their areas,” Thomson said, adding,” slow down and don’t react. Do your due diligence, confirm everything, talk to family members and friends.”
If you become a victim of fraud, contact your local police or the CAFC.