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In today's Morning Brief, we look at warnings over the rise in job scams as fraudsters prey on those looking for work amid the pandemic. We also look at a call for the Canadian government to repatriate 47 citizens who are currently detained in Syria because of alleged ties to the Islamic State.

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He quit his job to take a new position — but the job offer was a scam

Amid massive job losses due to the pandemic, employment scams are on the rise in Canada. As of May 31, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre had received close to 2,000 reports about job scams. That's more than in all of 2019, when there were 1,757 reports.

"It's definitely something we've been tracking since the COVID-19 pandemic has happened," said Jeff Thomson, a senior RCMP intelligence officer with the Anti-Fraud Centre. "A lot of people are out of work, they will be looking for work and it's ripe for fraud right now."

More than three million Canadians lost their jobs in March and April of this year, as businesses closed or suspended operations due to the pandemic. Statistics Canada has described it as the fastest decline in employment in the country's history. 

Thomson said fraudsters see this as an opportunity to switch tactics and dupe those eager for work. They use sophisticated techniques in order to create fake websites and use counterfeit financial instruments, such as bogus cheques.

Tony Monize of Toronto was temporarily laid off from his job in the telecom industry at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, so when he saw a job posting on LinkedIn for a position at Sobeys, he decided to apply. Two hours later he was on the phone with a man who identified himself as a human resources manager at Sobeys' head office. "He had a few more questions, like, if I was employed, my history on my resumé," Monize said. "He said, 'We're still talking to a few more applicants, we'll get back to you.'"

Watch | Toronto man describes online job scam:

Toronto man describes online job scam

2 years ago
Duration 1:46

After another conversation with a different interviewer later that day, Monize was offered the position so he resigned from the telecom job he'd held for three years. But within 24 hours, he discovered the new job offer was part of a scam. Monize was asked to send almost $4,000 to another company to pay for home office equipment. He agreed to e-transfer the funds, because he'd received a cheque with the Sobeys logo to cover the cost.

Then his bank called. "They said, 'just so you know, we looked at those email addresses where you're sending money. They're on the blacklist. It's fraud.'" And the cheque he'd received? It was counterfeit. Read more on this story here.

Bow-nd and determined

(Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

French skipper Fabrice Amedeo sails his boat on Friday off the coast of La Trinité-sur-Mer, western France. He was training for the July 4 start of the 6,600-kilometre solo Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables-d'Olonne race. That contest is a qualifying race for the around-the-world Vendée Globe race, which will begin on November 8.

In brief

The man who killed 22 people in rural Nova Scotia in April stockpiled cash, food and fuel due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, but he gave the people close to him no indications he was plotting an attack, according to the RCMP.  In the weeks before the mass shootings that started in Portapique, N.S., fear about the potential collapse of institutions and infrastructure led Gabriel Wortman to liquidate his savings and investments, said RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell in a lengthy interview with CBC News. "We do know that the gunman was very paranoid. We also know some would describe him as a survivalist," he said. "He'd voiced concerns about the pandemic, and that he wanted to be prepared in the event of things not working in the way they normally would." Read more on this story here

The Canadian government is flouting its international human rights obligations by failing to repatriate and provide adequate consular assistance to 47 citizens who are currently detained in northeast Syria because of alleged ties to the Islamic State, a new report from U.S.-based Human Rights Watch alleges. Twenty-six of the Canadians being held in camps and prisons controlled by Kurdish forces are children, and many are under the age of six, according to the advocacy group. The report says they are living in deplorable conditions at overcrowded camps with a lack of sanitation, contaminated drinking water and poor access to health care. Human Rights Watch says the government should immediately bring home all its detained citizens to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into Canadian society and, where appropriate, prosecute anyone accused of a crime. Read more on the new report here

The federal Conservatives want the auditor general to look into the Liberal government's decision to have an international charity administer a $900-million program designed to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter sent to Auditor General Karen Hogan on Sunday, the Tories say "outsourcing" the Canada Student Service Grant to WE Charity undermines Parliament's ability to monitor the aid program. The Conservatives also noted the "well documented" connections between WE and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they underscored the importance of transparency, accountability and value for money in Ottawa's COVID-19 spending. Read more here on the Conservatives' call for an investigation.

As Canadians yearn for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are pinning their hopes on unprecedented global efforts to develop a vaccine against the virus. But even though most infectious disease experts say the earliest possible time frame would be at least a year or two away, anti-vaccination groups are already well into online and social media campaigns stoking doubts about the safety — and even questioning the necessity — of a coronavirus vaccine. "I just am astonished at how early the anti-vaccine narrative has started," Dr. Natasha Crowcroft, a vaccine expert at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said in an interview with CBC's The Dose health podcast. Read on for details of this story

Canadian research on "computer-mediated communication," begun long before the current lockdown, shows video chat is an inadequate substitute for real-life interaction. The real thing, dependent on non-verbal cues, is extraordinarily more effective in creating rapport and getting ideas across, writes CBC business columnist Don Pittis. Not only that, but the familiarity and trust we currently feel with co-workers during the lockdown's remote calls rests on connections remembered from back when we sat at a nearby desk or met for lunch. As the lockdown stretches out and the mix of colleagues changes, it may be almost impossible to establish healthy trusting working relationships using remote video chat tools alone. That's bad for business, said organizational behaviour specialist Mahdi Roghanizad from Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management. Read here for more analysis on this topic.

Now for some good news to start your Monday: Four Black best friends who met at the University of Calgary not only graduated together this year — each of them were also accepted into medical school. "For me, this isn't just my victory and this isn't just a victory for the four of us; this is a victory for our Black communities as a whole," said Nicole M'Carthy. She will head to the University of Toronto where she will be one of 24 Black students in the faculty of medicine for the class of 2024, the largest group in Canadian history. Whitney Ereyi-Osas and Elizabeth Dayo will be two out of four Black medical students at the University of Calgary, and Ruth Legese will be one of three Black students at the University of Alberta medical school. "We've been each other's closest friends and cheerleaders … It was a really beautiful end to our undergraduate degrees to all end up in places where we wanted to be," said M'Carthy. Read more about the four prospective doctors here.

Front Burner: Lawyer Julian Falconer on Dafonte Miller's fight for justice

In 2016, a violent altercation with an off-duty Toronto police officer, and the officer's brother, cost Dafonte Miller his left eye. On Friday, officer Michael Theriault was convicted of assaulting the young Black man. An Ontario Superior Court Justice acquitted Theriault and his brother of aggravated assault and obstruction of justice, but called their justification of self-defence "razor thin." Today on Front Burner, Miller's lawyer, Julian Falconer, shares his thoughts on the long path to that single conviction and the fight Black Canadians face to get justice for police violence.

Today in history: June 29

1534: French explorer Jacques Cartier reaches Prince Edward Island during his first voyage to Canada. He described it as "the best-tempered region one can possibly see, and the heat is
considerable."

1871: Canada is granted the right to create new provinces.

1927: France formally transfers ownership of 100 hectares of property at Vimy to Canada. The land was the scene of one of the most celebrated battles by Canadian soldiers during the First World War. The German bastion along Vimy Ridge was assaulted by all four divisions of the Canadian Corps on Easter 1917. The Vimy memorial consists of the Canadian land, now a park, and a monument dedicated by King Edward VIII in 1936.

1974: Soviet ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defects in Toronto during a Canadian tour.

2017: B.C.'s minority Liberal government is defeated in a non-confidence vote in the legislature. NDP Leader John Horgan emerged from a meeting with Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon to say he was asked to form a government after reaching a deal with the Green Party on a legislative agenda.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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