Residents are being warned of fraudster activity amid COVID-19.

As the novel coronavirus spreads across Canada, Ontario and cottage country, COVID-19 related scams are taking advantage of citizen’s fear during uncertain times and fraudsters are exploiting the pandemic to facilitate fraud through cybercrime and other means to obtain personal information.

In an interview with MyHaliburtonNow, Detective Sergeant for the OPP Anti-Racket Branch Ted Schendera says fraudsters have seemingly switched their focus to instill fear during these uncertain times.

He says some scammers are even calling people and giving them false results for COVID-19 tests.

“What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to scam your personal information,” Schendera said. “Whether it means your health card or even your financial information in an effort to extort money out of you in some way.”

Schendera says police are seeing various scenarios but most are the typical urgency and time-sensitive circumstances that criminals place on individuals in order to receive personal and financial information.

According to information received by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, many of the reports have a medically related theme in order to instill unnecessary fear and anxiety.

Schendera says the biggest thing to remember is that fraudsters rely on urgency and fear to scam victims and there are ways around this.

“If it’s a call you receive, hang up, that’s how you create time,” Schendera said. “If it’s anything that comes up by way of tech, whether by phone or computer, make sure you do your research. Don’t go to the website they actually tell you to go to. Do your research, educate yourself and talk to people and ask their advice.”

Schendera notes if you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of a COVID 19 related scam or any other scam, you are encouraged to contact your local detachment.

You can also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.