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Federal efforts to cushion the economic blow from the Covid-19 outbreak are becoming a popular target for fraudsters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) warns.

The CAFC says it has received numerous reports of service scams, phishing scams and identity fraud attempts, among other schemes, related to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The service scams include companies offering to assist with government applications, including applications to receive the CERB, and then invoicing for those services.

“Some companies may suggest that this fee covers the taxable portion of the income,” it said. “Additionally, many of these companies may seem to be associated to the government, but they are not.”

Criminals are also using stolen identities to open bank accounts and submit CERB applications.

The phishing scams often feature messages inviting CERB applications, seeking confirmation of application information, or claiming that payment is ready.

These messages link to fraudulent websites that then try to collect personal or financial information.

Overall, the CAFC said, it has received more than 1,000 reports of criminals trying to profit from the pandemic, including CERB scams.

Between March 6 and May 25, almost $2 million was reported lost to Covid-19 fraud, the agency said.