Richmond RCMP probing apparent $10,000 bitcoin handover linked to fake abduction claim

The suspect allegedly "spoofed" a cell phone caller ID; the originating call demanding payment for the safe return of the victim's partner appeared to have come from the partner’s cell phone

A Bitcoin ATM in Richmond

Richmond RCMP is probing an alleged fake abduction that led to more than $10,000 worth of virtual currency bitcoin being handed over by the victim.

Just before 7 p.m. on Monday, July 16, Richmond RCMP responded to a home on Dover Crescent, near Westminster Highway and No. 2 Road, for a report of an abduction.

The suspect, or suspects, were allegedly able to “spoof” a cell phone caller ID and contact the victim, demanding payment for the safe return of their partner.

According to police, the victim took the threat seriously, as the originating call appeared to have come from their partner’s cell phone.

Funds in excess of $10,000 were then allegedly transferred to a Bitcoin ATM machine at a coffee shop near Westminster Highway and No. 3 Road, before the victim realized they were being scammed.

The victim’s partner was located unharmed and unaware of their supposed abduction.

“Richmond RCMP is warning the public that criminals are trending towards more sophisticated techniques in their activities and how they are able to gather personal information from their victims,” said Richmond RCMP’s Cpl. Dennis Hwang.

“This includes sophisticated phishing exploits via computer to conventional methods such as posing as company employees by phone to obtain cell phone numbers or other personal data.”

Police said the most current, widely demanded forms of payment related to scams are:

• iTunes gift cards

• Steam (gaming) gift cards

• Bitcoin

“If any of these types of payment are being demanded, the alarm bells should be going immediately,” added Hwang.

“Please exercise caution whenever anyone demands personal information from you. Abductions are extremely serious offences that the police do not take lightly.”

Richmond News