COVID-19 Potential Frauds and Scams

Thank you to the Port Hardy RCMP for their support and this valuable information.

Potential COVID-19 Related Scams/Frauds



Since the release of this report on March 4th, 2020, there has been a spike in COVID-19 related scams across the world, and more specifically within Canada. 


Most of the reported scams in Canada involve fraudulent merchandise sales or phishing emails. The fraudulent merchandise sales frequently involve the sale and/or give-away of health-related products, including facemasks and COVID-19 tests. “Free products” are also being advertised, however there is a requirement for victims to pay a fake shipping fee. 


Phishing emails have been identified impersonating agencies such as Red-Cross, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health, Public Health Canada, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as others. Methods of operation have remained similar, whereas an individual is contacted, mainly through email or SMS, and is provided a link, which then prompts them to fill out personal and banking information, or the link itself contains suspected malware.


Other additional phishing and service scams that are now surfacing involve individuals being notified of fake positive test results, donation campaigns, door-to-door decontamination services and self-assessment surveys. 


Protect yourself, beware of:

  • Spoofed government, healthcare or research information

  • Unsolicited calls, emails and texts giving medical advice or requesting urgent action or payment 

  • If you didn't initiate contact, you don't know who you're communicating to

  • Never respond or click on suspicious links and attachments

  • Never give out your personal or financial details

  • Unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims, products or research 

  • Don't be pressured into making a donation

  • Verify that a charity is registered

  • High-priced or low-quality products purchased in bulk by consumers and resold for profit 

  • These items may be expired and/or dangerous to your health

Questionable offers, such as: 

  • miracle cures

  • herbal remedies

  • vaccinations

  • faster testing

  • Fake and deceptive online ads, including: 

  • cleaning products

  • hand sanitizers

  • other items in high demand  


Reported scams

Fraudsters are posing as:

  • Cleaning or heating companies 

  • offering duct cleaning services or air filters to protect from COVID-19

  • Local and provincial hydro/electrical power companies 

  • threatening to disconnect your power for non-payment

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization 

  • offering fake lists for sale of COVID-19 infected people in your neighbourhood

  • Public Health Agency of Canada 

  • giving false results saying you have been tested positive for COVID-19

  • tricking you into confirming your health card and credit card numbers for a prescription 

  • Red Cross and other known charities 

  • offering free medical products (e.g. masks) for a donation

  • Government departments 

  • sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails

  • tricking you into opening malicious attachments

  • tricking you to reveal sensitive personal and financial details

  • Financial advisors 

  • pressuring people to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease

  • offering financial aid and/or loans to help you get through the shut downs

  • Door-to-door sales people 

  • selling household decontamination services

  • Private companies 

  • offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale 

    • Only health care providers can perform the tests

    • No other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate results

    • selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease 

    • Unapproved drugs threaten public health and violate federal laws


Trusted resources and advice on COVID 19

  • Reference the latest health information from these legitimate sources: 

  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (Public Health Agency of Canada)

  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak (World Health Organization)

  • Contact your insurance provider to answer any health insurance questions

  • Make sure you have anti-virus software installed and keep your operating system up to date


Examples of some of the Possible COVID-19 Related Scams


Possible Scam(s)                                   


Impersonating an airline, airport or travel agency


Email, telephone or SMS: requesting travel information, banking info, passport, or offering links for discounted flights, travel advisories, reports on possible infected passengers/areas, reports on disease, etc.


  • Malware/ransomware

  • Phishing

  • Passport/ID theft

Impersonating a hospital, health agency, government body, respected representative or other agencies (more specifically, Health Canada, Provincial Government, WHO, CDC, CBSA)


Email, telephone or SMS: requesting travel info, banking info, passport info, health records, patient, citizens, employee or company info, requesting contact tracing, or offering links for travel/health/medical advisories, safety measures, reports on the virus, etc.


  • Malware/ransomware

  • Phishing

  • Financial theft 

  • Passport/ID theft


Elder scam


  • Telephone: asking for money to get a loved one out of COVID-19 quarantine or for their required treatment, or requesting any of their personal records


  • Financial theft

  • ID theft (secondary victim)

Donation Campaign Scam


Email, telephone, online campaigns (social media, forums, websites, dark-web) or SMS: fake donation campaigns  or links for individuals or communities impacted by COVID-19, potentially seeking funds for medicine and treatment


  • Financial theft (physical & cyber currency)

  • Malware/ransomware

Product/e-commerce Scam


Email, telephone, SMS, social media markets, online campaigns, stores or links: purchase “miracle” drugs, products, or advice to treat, combat, and prevent COVID-19 (especially revolving around non- N95 facemasks* or hand-sanitizers). 


  • Financial theft

Investment/securities scam


Email, telephone or SMS: providing a stock investment opportunity involving a company, project or product that is COVID-19 related, which is either completely fraudulent or misrepresented in an effort to steal funds or pump a stock’s value. 


  • Financial theft

  • Stock market manipulation

Scams can touch anyone, anywhere, at any time. 
Do not be embarrassed.



If you or a family member have been contacted by a scammer, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre — even if you didn't give them any money.


Canadian Anti-Fraud CentreToll-free

Phone: 1-888-495-8501

They will answer calls Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 1:45 pm, Pacific Standard Time.



If you or a family member did lose money, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre AND your local police as well.


Canadian Anti-Fraud CentreToll-free: 1-888-495-8501

They will answer calls Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 1:45 pm, Pacific Standard Time.


Local RCMP Detachments

Port Hardy RCMP non-emergency

Port McNeill RCMP non-emergency

Alert Bay RCMP non-emergency  

Sayward RCMP non-emergency  





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