Someone demanding your money in cryptocurrency is probably fake, even if they sound legitimate, says Coquitlam RCMP.
The Mounties are warning the public of a recent cryptocurrency scam that has defrauded local victims out of thousands of dollars.
The reports came in over the month of December when people were shopping for the holidays.
Substantial financial loss
"We've had reports that some people lost a substantial amount of money," said Cpl. Alex Hodgins, who said the local RCMP received at least three reports of frauds where people were told to empty their bank account because it had been compromised.
The victims were told to take out their remaining money to prevent further fraud.
The victims were then instructed to deposit their money into a cryptocurrency machine to use as bait money to catch the scammers who had compromised their bank accounts.
"They were defrauded in each case," said Hodgins who said the lost sum of money was in the thousands of dollars.
ATM money vanishes
The advice is to hang up on anyone pressuring you to put money into a cryptocurrency ATM machine — no matter how real and scary the fraudster's story sounds.
Criminals use cryptocurrency frauds to trick people out of their money. To add legitimacy to the scams, the fraudsters may pose as credible individuals including banking institutions or government agencies.
These types of frauds play on the victim’s emotions, and have nothing to do with the victim’s intelligence, said Hodgins.
According to RCMP:
- The fraudsters raise the level of threat if immediate action is not taken.
- They spoof their number to show up as local police, or a government agency to convince the target that the call is legitimate.
- Threats of arrest, lawsuit, penalty, deportation or immediate suspension of services/benefits if payment is not made immediately.
Even if you don't normally use cryptocurrency, commonly known as Bitcoin, scammers are good at enticing, pressuring, threatening or extorting their targets into sending them bitcoin from an ATM, according to police.
Once the coins are in the scammer’s wallet, the victim’s money is gone and unlikely to be retrieved.
Unfortunately, scammers often target victims of fraud a second or third time with the promise of recovering money.
The RCMP offer the following advice:
- Canadian government agencies or police do not demand payment through the exchange of cryptocurrency.
- Never give out your personal information especially to an unsolicited caller.
- Legitimate companies would not direct you to ATM machines or send you a QR code to make a payment.
To learn more about cryptocurrency frauds, visit the BC RCMP website – Bitcoin and gift card scams.
Have you been scammed?
For more information on frauds and scams, and additional ways to protect your money, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.
If you have been a victim of fraud or suspect someone may be trying to scam you, contact your local police.
Coquitlam RCMP can be reached at 604-945-1550.