TORONTO -- The Better Business Bureau warns that many Canadians self-isolating at home during the pandemic got caught up in work-at-home scams.

“Scammers look for people who are desperate and looking for the opportunity to work from home. During the pandemic, they were the ideal target,” Patrick McKeen, the president of the BBB that services Central Ontario, said. 

The Bureau said that scammers used job boards or fake websites to create phony positions such as the secret shopper, warehouse redistribution coordinator, COVID-19 inspector, customer service representative and human resources assistant. 

Victims were told to pay in advance for training or were sent cheques to redirect through their own accounts which would later bounce. 

Many of the people who got scammed were already in poor financial shape with 73 per cent of those who lost money saying didn't have enough to cover their monthly bills. 

Scammers also pretended to be with large companies that needed help redirecting packages due to a surge in online shopping. 

The bureau said 65 per cent of fake job offers involved reshipment of packages and the most impersonated company was Amazon, followed by Walmart. 

“If it seems like you’re getting a job offer with a short interview or no interview at all and you’re being sent money by cheque or Bitcoin and it's happening too fast, it might be too good to be true," McKeen said. 

Many scam phone calls stopped during the pandemic because fraudulent call centres were closed down, but the RCMP says the centres have reopened in the past two weeks so the scam calls and texts are happening again. 

“They may say your SIN is involved, that you owe back taxes or that you are involved in money laundering and in a threatening way they say that you must send money immediately,” Jeff Thomson with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said.

The Canada Revenue Agency and the RCMP do not call people and use threatening language. The government also does not send assistance payments using texts. 

Police are also warning that the puppy scam remains a problem. People searching for pets online during the pandemic are told they must pay in advance for a puppy as well as shipping costs and then the puppy never shows up.