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Investment watchdogs warn of COVID-19 fraud schemes, ask Canadians to report them

TORONTO — Canada’s stock market regulators are warning investors to be wary of companies that claim to have products or services that prevent, detect or cure the coronavirus infection.

The regulators say there’s currently no vaccine or any natural health product that is authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19 and claims to the contrary are suspicious.

They also ask the public to contact the appropriate provincial or territorial securities regulator if they know of somebody who has been offered a fraudulent investment opportunity related to the coronavirus.

Speaking for the regulators, the Canadian Securities Administrators says a common fraud investment is the “pump and dump” scheme.

In that type of scam, a fraud artist creates or buys a shell company and circulates positive, false information to pump up the value of its stock — which the scammer then sells or dumps.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has also warned of various other schemes, such as attempts to sell decontamination services, face masks, or private tests for COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2020.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

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