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Frauds and scams to watch out for in the age of COVID-19 – CTV News Ottawa



As the COVID-19 pandemic grinds on, Ottawa police are advising the community to be on the watch for several kinds of frauds that may be taking place.

As we spend more time at home, more time online, and perhaps are more isolated because of social distancing, there are fraudsters who seek to prey on us, says Ottawa Police Sgt. Chantal Arsenault.

Sgt. Arsenault spoke to Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “The Goods with Dahlia Kurtz” on Sunday morning to outline some of the scams Ottawa police have been investigating.

“There’s several new scams or scams on the rise because of COVID,” she said. “It’s been very difficult for some people. A lot of people have lost their jobs, they find themselves at home, lonely, and we’re online more than ever.”

The first rule of avoiding a scam, Arsenault says, is to never send money to a stranger.

“If you haven’t met that person, no matter the consequences, you should never send money,” she said.

Rule number two: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“You really have to ask those questions. Is this such a great deal that it makes you want to jump on it really fast? Then you need to slow down and back up a little and think why this is such a great deal.”

Here are some of the frauds Sgt. Arsenault says have targeted people in the community and what you and police can do about them.

Romance scam

Romance scammers use social media or online dating sites to pretend to be someone they’re not. They will attempt to gain a victim’s trust and then begin asking for money.

“Romance scams are very difficult to investigate,” Sgt. Arsenault said. “Usually, as a victim of a romance scam, you’ll be sending money to a victim of another scam. When we start investigating these frauds, the money is moved so many times from different bank accounts and the recipient of the money is also a victim.”

Some advice for avoiding a romance scam is to be wary of people who ask for money or for you to cash a cheque for them, especially if you haven’t met them in person. Romance scammers will frequently avoid meeting in person. These fraudsters may also request provocative pictures from you, which may be used to extort you later on.

Pet scam

“Pandemic puppies” have become popular in recent months. With more people spending more time at home during the pandemic, interest in getting new pets has been on the rise. This creates the possibility for fraudsters to trick you, Arsenault said.

“People are lonely, they want to get a puppy or a kitten, and they find a great deal online, but the breeder is far away and they put pressure on you,” she said, “‘I only have one or two puppies left and you need to send money to secure the puppy.’ Turns out, there is no puppy. What usually happens is, especially if the puppy is from another province or far off, you’ll send a down payment and then you’ll get a request for more money, ‘You need to buy a crate, you need insurance, there’s issues at the border,’ and it’s never-ending.”

Arsenault says victims sometimes feel trapped because they’ve already committed by sending money and feel as if they must continue.

Her advice is to once again never send money to someone you’ve never met, and to look for a new pet close to home.

“Try to find a breeder who is local. Get in the car, go for a drive, go look at the puppies. Make sure it’s a reputable breeder. Look them up online,” she said.

Rental scam

Rental scams involve fraudsters listing properties that either do not exist or that have already been rented to someone and then demanding first and last month’s rent from the victim without allowing them to see the property.

Often, the fraudster will attempt to pressure a victim to sign quickly.

“There will be pressure for you to send money because this is a great deal and many people want the unit,” Sgt. Arsenault said. “Never send money unless you meet the landlord or the property manager and you’re able to visit the home. Usually, they’ll use COVID as a reason why they can’t show up but, if you can’t meet the landlord or see the property, that’s a huge red flag.”

Often, the price will be below market rent and instantly available, which Arsenault said are other red flags.

Computer virus scam

With many people spending more time online, fraudsters will sometimes try and use the fear of computer viruses or malware to convince you to pay for a service that promises to rectify alleged issues with your machine.

“You’re home, you’re online a lot recently, you go to a websites maybe you weren’t familiar with, and next thing you know you get a pop-up on your screen saying your computer is full of viruses or malware and then there will be a link for you to click on,” Sgt. Arsenault said.

“Never click that link.”

Another way they may try and deceive you is by calling you on the phone, claiming to be from a software company, and saying they’ve detected problems with your machine.

“If you have not contacted someone to help you out with your computer and you get a call, that is a huge red flag. They will convince you to buy some prepaid plans or to buy some software for your computer to protect it. If you haven’t made that call and you get that call, it should be a red flag,” Arsenault said.

If you’re worried about viruses or malware on your computer, take it to a reputable repair shop and never give out your credit card information to an unverified source.

Employment scam

Many people have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Sgt. Arsenault says you should be cautious of unsolicited job offers that seem to good to be true.

“If you have posted your resume online and if you have not contacted a certain company but they contact you, just be very wary,” she says.

In these cases, you’ll be offered a well-paying job with very little trouble. In many cases, you’ll then be sent money and told to buy items you’ll need to do the job.

“They will want you to deposit that cheque and then they will say to go and buy certain things you’ll need to do the job from home and then you’ll need to forward the extra money back to them using bitcoin or pre-paid cards. Any time you hear the words ‘bitcoin’ or ‘pre-paid card’, that’s a very, very big red flag.”

Arsenault says to do your due diligence with not only the company but also any cheques they send you. Check with your bank and make sure it clears before spending any money and, as always, avoid sending money to people you’ve never met.

Advice to protect loved ones

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people isolated, especially older adults who are more at risk from the disease, Sgt. Arsenault says it’s important to have conversations with loved ones who may be targets of fraud.

“As a community, we have to keep an eye out for the most vulnerable, especially during these times, and elders are definitely more at risk,” she said. “Elders will get scammed but they’re embarrassed and will not want to report the scam. If we have elderly parents, or just know elders in our community, have these conversations. When in doubt, have them call you as a friend if they don’t want to call police. Usually, they’re not as aware of these new trends.”

If you are the victim of fraud and you haven’t lost any money, you can report it through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or at 1-888-495-8501 to file a report for statistical purposes.

If you have provided personal information but have not lost any money, can can contact the Ottawa Police Reporting Unit at 613-236-1222, extension 7300 to file a report, as a report cannot be filed online.

If you have lost money to a fraud, you’re encouraged to contact the Ottawa Police Organized Fraud Section.

To prevent further loss of money, police say you should take the following steps:

  1. Cancel your cards and notify your bank of the fraudulent activity.
  2. Ignore any further communications from the subject and inform them that you have called the police if communication persists.
  3. Keep all documentation until it is requested by an Investigator.

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New Xiaomi Android 11 roadmap reveals that the Redmi Note 8 Pro and Redmi Note 8 duo may receive the update after all –



The Redmi Note 8 Pro looks set to get Android 11 after all. (Source: AndroidPit)
While previous information heavily indicated that the Redmi Note 8 Pro, Redmi Note 8, and Redmi Note 8T would not be eligible for Android 11, a new report leans towards the contrary. Apparently, the three phones are set to get Android 11 sometime in the future, with Xiaomi recently kickstarting internal testing.

Over the past few months, reports have surfaced strongly indicating that Xiaomi would not send the Android 11 update to its year-old mid-range devices like the Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 8 Pro. New information, however, leans towards the contrary, and owners of the two devices may yet be eligible for Android 11.

Interestingly, the source of this report, just a while ago claimed that neither the Redmi Note 8 Pro nor the regular Redmi Note 8 would be eligible for the newest version of Android. This is quite the turnaround in stance. The latest report claims that Xiaomi has now begun internal Android 11 testing for the Redmi Note 8 Pro, Redmi Note 8, and Redmi Note 8T—the latter two of which are essentially the same device.

While certain documents have surfaced indicating that Xiaomi only plans for one OS upgrade for its Redmi Note series devices, two OS upgrades for phones in that lineup would not be unheard of. The Redmi Note 5 Pro, for example, was launched with Android Nougat and received both Android Oreo and Android Pie.

In any case, you’d do well to take this information with a grain of salt—pending more concrete confirmation.

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A retail listing has revealed The Last of Us Part 2 PS5 upgrade could be in the works – VG247



By Dom Peppiatt,
Monday, 23 November 2020 14:28 GMT

A next-gen upgrade may be in the works for Naughty Dog’s latest game, making The Last of Us Part 2 PS5 a reality sooner than we thought.

A store listing for The Last of Us Part 2 has appeared over at Best Buy that suggests a next-gen update for the game could be in the works at Naughty Dog.

The Best Buy store listing for the PlayStation 4 physical copy of one of 2020’s biggest games includes a tag that reads “includes next-gen upgrade”.

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The development studio itself hasn’t formally announced any specific upgrades for The Last of Us Part 2 on PS5 – though the game does benefit from all the usual system-side upgrades backwards compatible games enjoy if you boot it up on the new hardware (including faster loading times and so on).

The Last of Us Part 2 also supports haptic feedback via the DualSense controller on PS5, but that’s about the extent of its next-gen support at the time of writing.

It may be that Best Buy has made the listing in error, and we’re not going to see more upgrades released for the game, but given that other PlayStation exclusives have received patches to make them perform better on the new hardware, that seems unlikely.

The Last of Us Part 2 is one of the biggest games of the year, is a critical hit, and won over a lot of players’ hearts as you can see in our review.

There’s also no mention of an upgrade on The Last of Us Part 2’s PS5 store listing page, though, so take Best Buy’s tag with a pinch of salt. The official Sony description for the game on PS5 actually notes that “while this game is playable on the PS5, some features available on PS4 may be absent”.

Last week, HBO greenlit a series based on The Last of Us that’s due to go into production soon. It will be helmed by Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin and executive produced and written by Neil Druckmann.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

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Used batteries are a safety hazard – Richmond News



Did you know storing old batteries in a drawer or tossing them in the garbage is a safety hazard?

“Used batteries can still hold a residual charge. If you throw them in the garbage or store them with other batteries or metal items such as paper clips, they have the potential to cause a spark that could lead to a fire,” says Joe Zenobio, president, Call2Recycle Canada, Inc., Canada’s national not-for-profit consumer battery collection and recycling program. “Batteries can and should be responsibly recycled.”

Batteries cannot be put in municipal curbside recycling programs because residential recycling facilities are not designed to separate batteries from household recyclables. Due to their metals, batteries require a specialized recycling process, not to mention they can be a safety concern for people and property. However, it’s easy to drop off your used batteries for recycling at one of Call2Recycle®neighbourhood collection locations.

Although safety is reason enough to recycle your batteries, there are other valuable benefits. Used batteries often contain hazardous waste materials. By keeping your old batteries out of your local landfill, you’re helping to protect wildlife and the environment.

To recycle your batteries safely, follow these steps:

Bag them.Place all used, undamaged batteries in clear, plastic, produce-style bags. The bags will protect the batteries from sparking both in your home and while being transported for recycling.

Check for damage. If you have a battery that is swollen, corroded, leaking or showing burn marks, place it immediately in sand or kitty litter in a cool, dry place. Then, place it in a bag and take it to your municipal household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling centre. Do not put it in the garbage.

Drop them.Transport your bagged batteries to a Call2Recycle collection location. To find the battery collection and recycling location nearest to you, visit Call2Recyce will recycle the batteries and the recyclable bags used to safely protect the batteries.

Keep them cool. If you don’t plan to take your used batteries immediately to a collection location, store the bagged batteries in a cool, dry place in a non-metal container.

More information on battery recycling can be found at

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