Canadians Targeted in New Wave of Bitcoin Related Scams
Police departments across Canada have issued public warnings against new Bitcoin-related scams after two Canadian citizens reportedly lost $25,000 to criminals posing as police officers and tax collectors.
Earlier this month, the Kingston Police issued a regional scam alertabout individuals in the area impersonating the police to commit financial fraud. The scam involves the attackers telling victims that their social insurance number, bank accounts, and other personal information have been used in a major fraud case or money laundering investigation.
The victims are then instructed to send funds in the form of Bitcoin to solve the problem and prevent further action by the police. The Kingston Police have identified multiple cases in the Kingston area where attackers were able to defraud victims into sending large sums of Bitcoin successfully. The price of Bitcoin (BTC) in Canadian dollars (CAD) at the time of the police report was $11,004.83 (BTC to CAD).
In the report, the Kingston Police reminds the public that they will never contact someone requesting payments over the phone, adding that no police service would request any payment using Bitcoin. They advise that any business or corporation requesting payment over the phone in the form of Bitcoin is most likely a fraudulent request made by scammers. They ask the public to be mindful of what is being asked of them to avoid being scammed.
In Vancouver, the police are also reporting that they have received numerous reports of scammers calling residents representing themselves as being members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Similar to the attacks in Kingston, the attackers tell the victims that their social insurance number has been used to set up credit card accounts with significant amounts of debt outstanding. The victims are then instructed to pay off their debts using Bitcoin or gift cards.
In the Vancouver attacks, scammers ask the victims to provide the phone number for their local police department. Once that step is complete, the fraudsters hang up and call the victim back, pretending to be a police officer. Most often, the phone number will come up as the VPD’s non-emergency line on the victim’s call display. The attackers then provide the victims with a fake badge number.
Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Aaron Roed says, “The non-emergency police line is for residents to use to report incidents to the police. The police will never call you from the non-emergency number and will never solicit payment”. Adding, “We ask that if you receive a call like this, you hang up immediately and spread the word to friends and family.”
The Coquitlam RCMP has also reported that it has seen a surge in complaints about CRA/Bitcoin-related scams in recent months. Much like the complaints in Vancouver and Kingston, the attackers phone victims pretending to be either the police or tax collectors and threaten to arrest victims if they do not make immediate payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The BC RCMP said in a press release that they typically get one complaint per month about these kinds of scams, but in September, the rate of complaints increased to one per week.
Coquitlam RCMP Corporal Michael McLaughlin said in the statement, “Scammers will try to instill a sense of urgency and panic in their victims and keep them on the phone through the whole crime, even teaching them how to send Bitcoin,” adding “It may seem like an obvious scam, but remember the fraudsters are targeting the elderly, new Canadians, and other vulnerable populations. We need to educate our family and friends because if these callers reach them first, the money is most likely unrecoverable”.
The BC RCMP says that potential victims can help protect themselves by visiting www.canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention or using the following recommendations:
If you ever get a feeling that you’re being scammed, get off the phone. Take a few minutes to think about it.
If any government agency calls to say you owe money, get their contact information. Consult someone trustworthy before you pay any money.
The CRA will never demand immediate payment in Bitcoin, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards.
The CRA never uses text messages or instant messaging to communicate with taxpayers
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