Police warning of new scam targeting business owners

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Peel Regional Police (PRP) are advising the public of a scam targeting small businesses.

The scam involves criminals using fake social media accounts that appear almost identical to those of some elected municipal government officials to defraud business owners.

Investigators have received reports wherein businesses owners have received a message from a municipal government official on a social media platform claiming that they qualified for a COVID-19-related relief grant specific to small businesses.

The suspects operating the fraudulent accounts requested prepaid gift cards.

Within the messages the scammers sent, were links that requested personal information along with a request for funds prior to relief funds being released.

In order to protect themselves, and avoid becoming a victim of such scams, PRP is encouraging business owners to:

  • Do your research. Verify the organization or person.
  • Do not be afraid to say no.
  • Any requests for money should be treated with caution.
  • Avoid clicking on convenient links and source the service separate and apart from what is provided in an email or message.
  • Do not prepay someone you have never met for services or products by way of Interac e-transfer or by prepaid gift cards.
  • Do not send currency via Bitcoin ABM at the direction of someone you do not know and trust.

The investigation is still on-going, and anyone with pertinent information is urged to contact investigators with the 22 Criminal Investigation Bureau at (905) 453-2121 extension 2233. 

Additionally, information may be provided anonymously by contacting Peel Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or visiting their website.

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