Arrival of COVID-19 vaccine brings new warnings about pandemic scams
TORONTO -- The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine has brought with it new hope, but also new scams from criminals looking for ways to profit off the pandemic.
Officials are warning to be aware of fake vaccination offers, COVID-19 tests for sale and UV lighting products that claim they can kill the virus.
Health Canada issued a warning regarding ultraviolet light products that claim to disinfect masks and cellphones, saying "ultraviolet (UV) lights and wands for home use make unproven claims to disinfect household items against the COVID-19 virus."
“If you have purchased UV lights or wands that claim to prevent covid-19, stop using them immediately," Health Canada warned.
“There are companies that are trying to make a quick buck selling these units" Alex Farren, the CEO of BlueMorph, a company that creates UV light devices that have been approved to disinfect nursing homes and dental offices, said.
Farren said inexpensive products sold online are often not effective and could even be harmful.
“They emit a wavelength that is actually dangerous to the skin and the eyes so you really shouldn't be anywhere near it when it's operating,” Farren said.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning that scammers are also sending out texts and e-mails promising to get you to the front of the line to get the vaccine or even to get paid to receive it.
The BBB says there are scam texts stating you could take part in a clinical trial and make money doing it.
Along with fake vaccination offers there are scam COVID-19 tests being sold online and fake contact tracing requests designed to get your personal information.
There are also miracle cures, herbal remedies and unapproved drugs to watch out for.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports fraud in 2020 is 36 percent higher than last year due to scams related to the pandemic.
Ontario's four largest electricity utilities also issued a scam warning saying never make a payment that's not on your latest bill, ignore text messages promising refunds and that they will never threaten to cut off your power without warning due to non-payment.