Rise of the livestream scam

By Gordon Lambie
Rise of the livestream scam

Like almost every other event planned for 2020, the air show which usually takes place in Bromont did not happen this year. Organizers of the Spectacle & Salon Aérien des Cantons de l’Est made the cancellation of any plans for an event clear at the end of August, but Facebook users in the region might still have noticed an event called “Spectacle Aérien des Cantons de l’Est 2020” being promoted in recent weeks; promising a livestream of a show taking place at the Roland Desourdy airport.
At a quick glance, the event seemed legitimate; having borrowed images and information from the regular show. Those who followed the link, however, found themselves having to sign up for an account and provide personal information if they wanted to watch the show.
Jeff Thomson, senior RCMP intelligence analyst with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said that although this type of registration for a fake event is not the most common type of fraud being perpetrated at the moment, he would not be surprised to see more come up in the near future.
“Fraudsters have no bounds,” Thomson said, comparing the local example to a situation earlier this year in British Columbia where people were being invited to a fake conference on COVID-19. According to the analyst this type of scam can be used both to harvest personal information, though the registration form, and also as a way to collect bogus registration fees.
The intelligence analyst said that although the example of fake video feeds is quite specific, it falls under the definition of a service scam, one of the five most common types of online scams targeting Canadians.
“It’s not something we see a lot of, but certainly it is something we see,” Thomson said, adding that similar attempts might turn up more as services move online during the pandemic.
When it comes to spotting a scam, Thomson said that people should pay particular attention to how they are asked to pay for a service. If the registration asks for a transaction that depends on a form of payment that is harder to trace or that come without built-in fraud protection, such as bitcoin or payments through paypal, then it is more likely to be a risky transaction. Also, no legitimate organization asks for payment in gift cards.
The other important measure he advised is to do research around the event in question. If the event lists a location, for example, check with the venue to see if the event is really taking place. Although many of these scams rely on well-crafted fake websites or pages, the truth of the matter can start to show its head through inconsistencies from one source of information to another.
To take the example of the airshow, the actual website of the Spectacle & Salon Aérien des Cantons de l’Est made no mention of a 2020 show, nor did that of the Roland Desourdy airport.
Thomson said that the most common scams in the era of COVID-19 have been identity fraud related to false claims for the The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as well as ideas like buying and selling fake or counterfeit goods online.There has been a significant rise, for example, in businesses that will take people’s money for orders of personal protective equipment that never arrives.
“I suspect we’ll continue to see some of this stuff for a while now,” the analyst said, underlining the fact that fraudsters tend to preying on the emotions and anxieties of people living in isolation, making this pandemic a prime time for them to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting Canadians.
More information on the work of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and scams currently active in Canada can be found at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca

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