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Issue 68 | March 2021


This newsletter includes information to help lawyers reduce the likelihood of being sued for malpractice. The material presented is not intended to establish, report, or create the standard of care for lawyers. The articles do not represent a complete analysis of the topics presented, and readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.
FRAUD ALERT: Cyber Fraud Scams Rampant

Cyber fraud attacks continue to be on the rise internationally, including in Nova Scotia. According to the federal Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, between January 1 and February 28, 2021, there were 11,266 reports of fraud in Canada, 7,646 victims of fraud and $34.6 million lost to fraud. And they also follow COVID-19 specifically. Between March 6, 2020 and February 28, 2021, there were 13,553 reports of COVID-19 related fraud in Canada, 11,789 victims and $7.2 million lost.

Here are the most recent cyber alerts that we've posted, along with steps you can take to protect yourself:

A virus-infected email link or attachment may appear to be from a financial institution or company (e.g. a package delivery service), or, in recent times, with regard to COVID-19 from the CRA or Service Canada. Once an infected link or attachment is opened, the virus will begin to corrupt the victim’s system files. A pop-up window may soon appear on the computer screen restricting access to the system and its files until a ransom is paid.

These warning messages may also claim to be from the RCMP or other government agencies stating that your computer has been frozen for a criminal investigation involving 'child pornography' or 'illegal music downloading'. This is an attempt to scare victims into sending money to unlock their system, although very often the computer will not be unlocked if the money is paid – the scammer disappearing once funds, often requested as bitcoin, are transferred.

The programs in these emails install themselves and encrypt files on the computer’s hard drive and are extremely difficult to remove with no guarantee that your data can be recovered. Here’s are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Be vigilant about the legitimacy of all emails received – do not open email attachments or click links from unverified senders
  • Never click on a pop-up that claims your computer has a virus
  • Turn on your browser’s pop-up blocking feature
  • Keep your anti-malware and firewall programs up-to-date and perform scans on a regular basis
  • Schedule regular system updates and maintain backups of your data to ensure that your files are protected
  • Never download anti-virus software from a pop-up or link sent to you in an email
  • If you’ve received a ransomware message, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it
  • If your computer becomes infected, do not pay the scammer’s ransom request – have it cleaned by a computer repair service to remove any malware.

For tips to avoid being victimized, or to report or seek advice on dealing with fraud and scam attempts, contact Cynthia Nield at or 902 423 1300, x346.