As with any major event, fraudsters and scammers have found ways to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. While fraudsters and scammers are quick to adapt their methods to take advantage of a crisis, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) reminds Canadians to be extremely cautious.
Report Suspicious Activity
When considering any investment carefully research the investment and the individual or firm offering it and keep in mind that fraudsters often exploit the latest crisis. If you believe that you or someone you know has been offered a fraudulent opportunity related to the coronavirus, please contact your provincial or territorial securities regulator.
Be aware that if you currently have investments, scam artists may target you using fear and uncertainty around the current economic conditions to attempt to steal your money. If you are contacted by anyone with warnings about your investments or finances, never give out any personal information and contact your investment adviser or bank separately after independently verifying the phone number to ensure the caller is legitimate.
There are some simple ways to do your research and protect yourself.
- The CSA National Registration Search (NRS) is an easy to use, free tool that you can use to check registration, categories of registration and any disciplinary information about registrants all in one place.
- Check available tools and resources that the CSA offers to assist the public in learning how to protect their investments. You can make informed decisions by learning how to identify the red flags of investment fraud and using important sources of information such as the CSA Disciplined List and Cease Trade Orders database.
- Check the news and search onlineto see if there are any news releases, investor alerts or other information about the company or person.
- Monitor for the red flags of fraud, which remain consistent regardless of the fraud or scam.
- Ask questions, get satisfactory answers and think critically before making financial or investment decisions.
- The CSA and its members regularly put out investor alerts informing the investing public of known scammers and fraudulent activities. Click here to sign up to receive emails when additions are made to the Investor Alert list.
Be Aware of These Types of COVID-19 Scams
- Coronavirus-related investment scams from companies claiming to have products or services that will prevent, detect or cure COVID-19 infection. The CSA issued a news release warning investors about pump-and-dump schemes.
- Potentially fraudulent ads offering opportunities to work from home as securities traders during the pandemic without any former experience or a license and the benefit of keeping a large percentage of profits. In Canada, anyone in the business of trading securities must be registered with their provincial or territorial securities regulator, unless an exemption applies.
- At this time, there is no vaccine or any natural health product that is authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19. Be cautious of any claims that a company has a solution to help stop the coronavirus outbreak. Reliable information relating to COVID-19 is available from the World Health Organization and the Government of Canada.
The CSA and its members remain committed to protecting investors. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and continue to publish information and alerts to help keep investors informed during these uncertain times. You can find links to your provincial or territorial regulator’s investor education information in the Investor Tools section of the CSA website.
The CSA has a number of investor tools and resources available designed to help Canadians be informed investors. Investors can stay informed of the latest investor tips, news and developments by following @CSA_News on Twitter and @CSA.ACVM on Facebook.