Local Renata Swiezawski said she was alarmed when a fraudster contacted her family as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

The person attempted to coax an account number from her husband over the phone with the promise of payment from a government tax credit. The fraud did not fool them, but Swiezawski said she worries about other vulnerable people during the crisis.

“The government is throwing lots of money,” Swiezawski said. “Our brains are working double time. We’re not checking everything carefully, lots of people get confused.”

OPP said frauds are continuing during the pandemic and scam artists are leveraging the crisis into their efforts.

Central region media relations spokesman Sgt. Jason Folz said police have seen COVID-19 adapted into scams, such as selling protective equipment and sanitizer at inflated prices, more door-to-door collecting since people are staying inside and falsely soliciting donations for charities.

“The OPP has seen numerous people taking advantage of this situation with people at home,” Folz said. “People need to be wary of anyone they don’t know either soliciting them at their door, by phone, text or email.

“I can’t say for sure it’s increased, but it’s changed its direction,” he added. “Everyone’s mind is on the COVID outbreak. That’s how they’ve adapted what they’re doing.”

Folz said rather than trust strangers soliciting charitable donations, people should instead stick with charities they already know and trust.

People can report scam attempts to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Those victimized by a scam can also contact the OPP non-emergency line at 1-888-310-1122.

Swiezawski said people need to be careful and ask questions if anyone requests personal information or money.

“Everything at the moment is a state of emergency … It will be a time for crooks, really bad crooks, people who don’t have the mercy,” she said. “We’re scared.”

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