The reverend of a Comox church is hoping her experience can serve as a warning to others about potential COVID-19-related scams.
Rev. Keltie Van Binsbergen of Comox United Church confirmed that a few weeks ago, members of her congregation received an email that appeared to come from her and asked for gift cards for emergencies.
She said the email only seemed to happen once, and added luckily people called her right away because they realized “something was off.”
Some members of the church received the email on a Saturday, and the church office was able to send an email to the entire congregation right away warning them and told all who attended church the following Sunday morning.
“We told them a key thing to look for was the word ‘pastor;’ I never use that to refer to myself,” Van Binsbergen explained. “Plus, I would never ask people for money for gift cards.”
The Government of Canada’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issued a special bulletin warning citizens as COVID-19 continues to spread globally to watch out for associated scams, and that fraudsters are exploiting the crisis to facilitate fraud and cybercrime.
The centre added once such crime is unsolicited calls, emails and texts requesting urgent action or payment.
To report a COVID-19-related or any type of fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.