OTTAWA - A federal agency that monitors brewing online threats warns that fraudsters are dangling COVID-19-related content to fool victims into clicking on malicious links and attachments.

In a report today, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security says online tricksters know people are anxious about the future and are less likely to act prudently when they see emails, text messages or advertisements related to the pandemic.

The centre says COVID-19 lures often attempt to imitate the branding and style of legitimate institutions, such as international organizations and public health agencies.

It notes that cyberthreat actors can produce convincing copies of government websites and official correspondence.

One text-message phishing campaign claimed to provide access to a Canada Emergency Response Benefit payment, but only after the target divulged personal financial details.

Another campaign impersonated the Public Health Agency of Canada's chief public health officer to deliver malware through a fake COVID-19 update that appeared official and legitimate.