THE COVID-19 Fraud Response Team of the BC RCMP, in partnership with Health Canada, acted on a tip from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre that unauthorized COVID-19 test kits were being sold online to unsuspecting British Columbians.
Health Canada inspectors, assisted by members of the RCMP, seized more than 1,500 unauthorized kits from a Richmond resident, who had acquired and sold them without authorization.
Only diagnostic tests authorized by Health Canada can be imported or sold in Canada. Authorized COVID-19 tests provide accurate and reliable results, whereas unauthorized tests may lead to potential misdiagnosis.
Selling or advertising health products that make false or misleading claims to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure COVID-19 is illegal in Canada. Health Canada takes this matter very seriously and is taking action to stop this activity, according to a press release by the BC RCMP.
Health Canada continues to monitor websites for false and misleading claims, working with online retailers to ensure that unauthorized products and products making unauthorized claims are removed from their websites.
Canadians who have purchased unauthorized health products should stop using them immediately and consult a health care professional if they have used any of these products and have health concerns.
Health Canada encourages anyone who has information on the potential non-compliant sale or advertising of a health product claiming to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure COVID-19, to report it using the online complaint form.
The BC RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Financial Integrity Program created the COVID-19 Fraud Response Team to deal with various scams that are coming out during the pandemic, via detection, prevention, coordination and enforcement strategies. This operation was a success because of the involvement of officers at the Richmond RCMP Detachment, as well as expertise from Health Canada.
No charges were laid by the BC RCMP as a result of the seizure.
The types of scams can be infinite and change daily, ranging from unauthorized sale of unapproved medical devices to online phishing regarding fake COVID-19 testing, Revenue Canada and Health Authorities communications, government grants such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and many more.
“Canadians are reminded to be extra careful during the pandemic regarding online frauds and scams,” says Inspector Lav Mangat, Operations Officer for the BC RCMP Financial Integrity Program. “We work with many partners, such as Health Canada, to protect British Columbians. We are all in this together. Always assume any unsolicited contact is a potential scam. Consult the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre webpage for information on the types of scams out there, how to protect yourself and report them if you become a victim.”