#romancescams | Fraudsters, scammers have stepped up their efforts during COVID crisis


It is a good idea to be even more vigilant during this time when so many of us are feeling vulnerable and we are isolated and having less contact with people than usual.

Example: If you receive an email from Canada Revenue Agency and they say they don’t have your information on file . . . . think again. It’s probably a scam.

A Review reader forwarded us an email with what looked like an official header from Canada Revenue Agency and this is part of what it said:

“You are eligible to receive a refund of 520.00 CAD.

You have tax returns for period ending 15 Apr 2019, due 15 Apr 2020, now available for refund!

Remember: We tried to send it to you automatically but were unable to do so as we don’t have your details on file.”

If you receive an official looking email from what appears to be the Canada Revenue Agency but it comes from a hotmail address, it’s a scam.

It seems that fraudsters and scammers have lots of time on their hands these days and there are various ways that scammers are contacting people at this time of isolation.

We are summarizing some of the scams circulating, with thanks to www.canage.ca and to those who have shared fraudulent emails with us with an invitation to warn others.


Emails, phone calls and text messages encouraging seniors to apply for COVID-related government benefits by clicking on a link

A version of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam where fraudsters threaten that your “provincial medical benefits” have run out (or are running out) and you need to send money either to reinstate them or to buy private medical insurance.

A phone call from someone posting as a representative from the provincial or municipal health authority saying that you have been found to have COVID — or you have been found to have been exposed to COVID — and to give them your credit card to pay for testing or results.

Canada Post /UPS delivery frauds — a telephone call saying that you have an (often international) package for which a delivery has been attempted, but you need to call them to pay duty or shipping first.

Bank and Insurance-focused

Fake “financial planners” calling seniors about opportunities to get their investment portfolios back up due to COVID-19 losses.

Fake bank messages asking for your Social Insurance number and baking information so that they can set up a direct deposit for government funds due to COVID.

Family, friends and community-focused

Deceptive websites asking you to help purchase Personal Protecte Equipment for frontline health-care providers by donating (paying by credit card)

Community helping scams where callers say that they are trying to connect with socially-isolated seniors so that they can “help them”. In some instances, these callers are predators who are actually trying to identify vulnerable seniors so that they can get into their house, sell them things, or steal their personal information.

NOTE: There are legitimate organizations reaching out to vulnerable seniors during the COVID-19 crisis. To ensure that you are speaking with a reputable organization, ask them for their phone number and then, call them back before providing any personal information and NEVER give out financial information.

Romance scams through social media and online dating sites focused on seniors who may be feeling lonely as a result of being isolated because of COVID, and are spending more time socializing online.

A version of the grandparent scam — but this time, the “grandchild” is stuck overseas and can’t get home because of COVID restrictions but with enough money, can get a “special flights” — and don’t tell mom or dad.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre collects information on fraud and identity theft.

For more information, visit: https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or call 1-888-495-8501 (toll-free).


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