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COVID-19: AMF launches campaign to fight financial fraud

By The IJ Staff | April 06 2020 02:23PM

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a perfect environment for investment fraudsters, warned Quebec’s financial markets regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF). On April 6 the regulator launched an awareness campaign to help Quebeckers recognize, avoid and report any potential fraud attempts targeting them.

Fraud prevention messages will be broadcast on television, via the Internet and over social networks from April 6 to May 25, 2020.

"Fraud prevention is central to our mission, and we believe it is important to issue reminders in these particularly challenging times. In addition to awareness activities, our teams are performing ongoing monitoring and are in direct contact with regulators in the other Canadian provinces and territories and elsewhere in the world," said Louis Morisset, AMF President and CEO. "Despite the current pandemic, the AMF is maintaining all of its services and making every effort to ensure that it is able to intervene in cases of fraud or when an offence is committed under the laws administered by it."

The AMF detailed some recently reported examples of fraud. Fraudsters are using the Internet and social media to offer opportunities to invest in companies claiming to be involved in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 infections. “They usually promise high returns, often at zero risk, and push their targets to make a snap investment to take advantage of a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity,” says the AMF.

Fraudsters soliciting job seekers

In another example, fraudsters are soliciting job seekers on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Craigslist and Kijiji. The offers may seem very realistic and may appear to be from known companies, including financial institutions. “To make their offers appear legitimate, fraudsters may ask the target to complete employment, income tax or access to personal and banking information forms.”

Fraudsters are also “playing on fears caused by the current economic conditions to approach their victims. For example, people may receive unsolicited e-mail or text messages warning them about their investments or personal finances. These messages usually direct them to click on a hyperlink or open an attachment. The fraudsters' goal is to obtain personal information or install malware on a computer or cell phone,” warns the regulator.

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