There’s a ‘special place in hell’ for scammers amid COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta premier says

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney did not mince words Monday afternoon when he came out with a warning to scammers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To those who are trying to exploit seniors and others during this time of a public health emergency, there must be a special place in hell for people like that,” the premier said.

“Just stop it. It is completely un-Canadian, it is un-Albertan, it is unacceptable, it is illegal and if we catch anybody who is engaged in these kinds of frauds or scams, I guarantee the book will be thrown at them and they will face the full force of the law.”

Kenney made the comments while announcing new financial supports for Albertans amid the global health crisis.

The premier said the province has been made aware of several scams and fraudulent operations targeting the province’s most vulnerable.

He said one scam going around right now sees people receiving phone calls from someone who claims to be a representative from Alberta Health Services. The caller tells the person they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, then proceeds to ask for personal information like their personal health-care number, ID information and credit card information, Kenney explained.

“In addition, cybersecurity incidents involving malware and fraudulent activities, including identity theft, are being reported across Alberta in the wake of COVID-19,” Kenney said.

“Cybercriminals are sending emails and setting up fake websites designed to trick people into clinking links that install malicious software on their computers or capture credentials and other personal information.”

Kenney urged Albertans to exercise caution, and not click on any links or provide personal information to anyone if it’s unsolicited.

The premier also urged people to stop “unnecessarily hoarding” amid the pandemic.

He said he volunteered at the Hope Mission in Edmonton on Monday morning, where he learned the organization has seen a nearly 80-per-cent spike in the number of people coming in for free meals over the past two weeks. Kenney said the homeless shelter is struggling to get items it needs because its suppliers are “being stressed by the demand in the grocery stores and in the grocery system.”

“This is outrageous,” he said.

“The poorest amongst us are being hurt by people who are unnecessarily hoarding.

“There is no need for people to engage in hoarding.”

Reliable, pertinent information about the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the Alberta government’s website. Scams should also be reported to the province, on the government’s website, Kenney said.

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