With the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine, so comes phone scams about it, warns local law enforcers

Barrie Police warning the public, especially our more vulnerable neighbours of the potential

The Ontario Government has kicked off its massive COVID-19 inoculation program, meaning more and more people will have access to the vaccine over the coming months.

But not all of us.

The Barrie Police Service is giving out a preemptive head’s up about the potential for COVID-19 vaccine-related phone scams, with police spokesperson Peter Leon saying these scams play off our desperation. “We all want to see an end to this, we all want to have a return to whatever our new world is going to be,” Leon told Barrie 360. “The reality of it is, it’s going to take time.”

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Leon says vaccine program information is coming directly from the Ontario Government, not from third parties. “It’s very thorough, it’s very detailed. And it’s something that will ensure that everybody who wants to receive the vaccine can and will receive that vaccine.”

Leon adds these scams could be aimed at the more vulnerable among us. “We need to make our parents, especially if they’re in their senior years, aware that you have coverage in Ontario for the vaccine; you don’t have to pay money upfront to reserve a vaccine or anything to do with it,” he said. “We’re just simply reminding seniors that if you receive a text message, a phone call, and email, if you don’t recognize who the phone number is, or the sender, don’t even open it, just delete it.”

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While Barrie Police are highlighting the need for education on these types of scams, Leon points out there haven’t been any reports of this particular crime in Barrie. “This just as a precautionary measure more than anything else,” Leon added. “Now’s the time to continue educating the public so that we can prevent anything from taking place. Let’s keep money where it belongs.”

“These people don’t take Christmas holidays. They’re out to scam people every day of the year that they can, and if we can prevent one scam from happening, we’ve succeeded,” Leon concluded.

The first phase of the province’s inoculation program prioritizes those living or working in long-term care homes, healthcare workers, those in high-risk Indigenous communities, and those receiving chronic healthcare. It is expected the vaccination of these groups will take several months, potentially until April, before the vaccine is made available to a wider segment of the population.