Crime Stoppers Warns QR Codes Are Being Used in a Variety of Scams


Crime Stoppers is sounding the alarm over a new way scammers are trying to separate you from your money.

According to Crime Stoppers, scammers have been creating fake QR codes and planting them at restaurants, shops, and even parking machines. Instead of taking you to a menu or checkout, the fake QR code downloads malware onto your device and steals your location and personal information.

The Better Business Bureau has also issued a warning about how some scams are becoming more sophisticated as a result of artificial intelligence.

During the pandemic, QR codes became a popular way to offer touchless access to information, like restaurant menus, tickets, and COVID-19 vaccine certificates. All people have to do is use their smartphone cameras to scan a black-and-white code.

But scammers are taking advantage of the widespread use of QR codes to launch new versions of old scams.

There are different ways QR codes can be used to separate you and your money.

Sometimes a fraudulent code will lead to a bogus website site to steal information, other times, scammers use a QR code to launch a fraudulent payment app or spread malware.

In a typical scenario, a scammer will pose as a legitimate business and post a notice about a sale or offer. When you scan the code, you’re asked to enter sensitive personal or financial information, like a credit card, and that information is then stolen.

According to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security the best way to avoid being scammed is to:

  • Slow down. A QR code is a tool that encourages you to act quickly – QR stands for “quick response.” It works well for advertisers, but it’s important to take your time and assess if you need to scan the code, and whether the information being asked for is legitimate.
  • Once you’ve scanned the QR code, check the domain address that appears at the top of the browser. A red flag that the website or app that you’ve been directed to is a scam is when the domain doesn’t match the organization that provided the code. Close your browser page if the QR code you scanned opens up a suspicious site.
  • Avoid scanning a QR code if it looks like a sticker covering another QR code, e.g. an advertisement on the street. Scammers can print fraudulent codes on stickers and affix them to legitimate ads.
  • If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of the QR code, just manually search for the website you need.

By scanning a QR code, you could be susceptible to the following risks:

  • Tracking of your online activity by websites using cookies. Your data can be collected and used for marketing purposes without your consent.
  • Collecting metadata associated to you, such as the type of device you used to scan the code, your IP address, location and the information you enter while on the site.
  • Exposing financial data, such as your credit card number, if you used it to purchase goods or services on the website.

Article courtesy of Rob Gibson,