Financial scams increasing in times of COVID, police say

Public should remain alert to fraudulent requests

The RCIPS Financial Crime Investigation Unit stated on Wednesday that it is aware that there has been an increase in financial scams since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

It is reminding the public to be cautious in order to avoid falling victim to any such hoaxes.

People should be wary of any kind of ‘get rich quick’ schemes or investments that promise a substantial financial return in a very short period of time. Even if they do provide a financial benefit, often there are several other persons who have lost money as part of the same scheme. If something seems ‘too good to be true’, it usually is. To avoid being taken advantage of, it is generally best to avoid such offers altogether.

The FCIU is also advising the public of a separate tactic being used to solicit funds from persons. This involves individuals overseas cloning local phone numbers and then activating WhatsApp on a separate cell phone. They then message the original holder of the phone number, pretending to be a friend, and ask them to send the verification code, which they will claim was sent to them by mistake.

Afterwards, they will impersonate the holder of the phone number and message friends of the person to request funds be sent to them via money transfer, due to an illness or emergency.

As always, members of the public should be wary of anyone requesting sensitive information, or transfer of funds, via email or instant message, and avoid sending such information or funds. If there is reason to suspect the request is not valid, it is best to get a final confirmation by speaking in person, or via voice or video call.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a financial scam is encouraged to contact the Financial Crime Investigation Unit at [email protected] or 949-8797.

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