Arrival of COVID-19 vaccine brings new warnings about pandemic scams

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TORONTO – The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine has brought new hope, but also new scams from criminals looking for ways to profit from the pandemic.
Officials warn to be aware of bogus vaccination offers, COVID-19 tests for sale, and UV lighting products that claim they can kill the virus.

Health Canada has issued a warning regarding ultraviolet light products that claim to disinfect masks and cellphones, stating that “home use ultraviolet (UV) lamps and wands make unproven claims for disinfecting household items against the virus COVID-19 ”.

“If you have purchased UV lamps or wands that claim to prevent covid-19, immediately stop using them,” Health Canada warned.

“There are companies that are trying to make a quick buck selling these units,” said Alex Farren, CEO of BlueMorph, a company that creates UV light devices that have been approved to disinfect nursing homes and dental offices.

Farren said cheap products sold online are often ineffective and could even be harmful.

“They emit a wavelength that’s actually dangerous for the skin and eyes, so you really shouldn’t be around when it’s working,” Farren said.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​warns that crooks are also sending text messages and emails promising to put you on the front line to get the vaccine or even get paid to receive it.

The BBB says there are some scam texts that say you could take part in a clinical trial and make money doing it.

In addition to bogus vaccination offers, there are fraudulent COVID-19 tests sold online and bogus contact tracing requests designed to obtain your personal information.

There are also miracle cures, herbal remedies, and unapproved drugs to watch out for.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center reports that fraud in 2020 is 36% higher than last year due to scams linked to the pandemic.

Ontario’s four largest electric utilities have also issued a scam warning saying never make a payment that isn’t on your last bill, ignore text messages promising refunds and that they would never threaten to cut your electricity without warning due to non-payment.

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