MONTREAL -- Montreal police are warning people to be vigilant as fraud linked to online purchases grows across the city. 

With an increase in online shopping has come an increase in "new tricks" to con people, the force said in a news release on Tuesday.

It singled out fraud related to debit cards, the purchasing of pets, fake iPhones and video game consoles. 


Police have received reports from people who've been tricked into giving attackers their debit card pins over the phone, assuming that they are talking to their bank, they said.

In such cases, the victims are usually informed of "suspicious activity" on their account and are asked to follow a number of steps to cancel their cards. In other cases, they're told their bank is issuing new cards because of COVID-19 and are asked to dial their PINs on their phones. 


Some online pet listings have been reported as fraudulent after people sent full payment for the animal, its vet bills and transportation costs, and never received the pet. 


Police have also received reports from people who've purchased new iPhones from individuals on the internet, police said.

In these cases the boxes the buyers are sent, which look new and sealed, contain fake versions of one of the latest iPhones. 


With a lengthy lockdown comes great boredom, and some Montrealers have been looking to purchase a console online to pass the time. Some have reported putting down deposits for the new PlayStation 5, but the device is never delivered. 


"If the asking price for an item is too good, beware," Montreal police said in the release. "It's probably fraud." 

The police force also recommends staying away from speaking exclusively over the phone and the internet when making purchases and never sending any money without proof the item that's for sale actually exists. 

As far as bank fraud is concerned, when a real representative from a bank calls, they should already have your information -- there is no need to provide it over the phone. If you are ever uncertain, police said, hang up and call the bank yourself.  

Cybersecurity expert Claudiu Popa said people never think can happen to them, but it does.

“The reason people keep on falling for this stuff and will keep falling for this stuff is because we're human and we trust other humans,” he said, agreeing that this year is especially bad.

“Cybercriminals know that we're cooped up in our houses and we are cornered essentially. Everybody is online, everybody is looking for deals.”

Even normally savvy shoppers are sometimes fooled, especially when it's so easy to replicate something that looks like a legitimate website.

“It's an exact copy, so don't even expect there to be grammatical mistakes or typos. It will look identical because it will be an exact copy of it.

To avoid being fooled,check that the website's address starts with the letters ‘https’ and look for the lock symbol that shows the website is encrypted.

“I think the key thing that people need to know is to develop almost a sixth sense for counterfeit products, fake products, fake websites, and copies of brands are important to identify before you get into any sort of transaction,” he said.

Experts say when it comes to online shopping, the old truism holds: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.