A few days after Richmond RCMP reported that cryptocurrency scams have already robbed investors of almost $400,000 so far this month, Vancouver police are also warning Vancouverites that they are also seeing a surge in this type of fraud.
Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is a digital or virtual form of currency or an online version of money.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) issued a news release today (March 19) to state that a recent spate of cryptocurrency scams has resulted in local victims losing almost $2 million in merely one week.
VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin explained that there may be more losses as “investigators believe this crime is underreported as victims often feel shame or embarrassment, making them reluctant to come forward to police”.
The VPD states that cryptocurrency frauds are “very difficult to investigate”. In addition, the VPD adds that “the chances of locating and identifying a suspect are low, as suspects are often based overseas and mask their identity through sophisticated, untraceable VPNs”.
Visintin explains that fraudsters will often attempt to exploit two main desires: the search for love and the pursuit of money.
“Victims are typically lured in with the idea that they will be a part of an opportunity to make money or in other cases, they will be doing a friend or romantic interest a favour,” Visintin stated.
VPD’s Financial Crime Unit investigators two scenarios that have been reported recently:
- romance scam: In this scenario, a victim is approached through social media or a dating site. The victim is groomed over time and the suspect expresses romantic interest. The suspect often provides excuses about why they can’t meet in person. Meanwhile, the suspect convinces the victim to invest in cryptocurrency However, when the victim invests in a fake cryptocurrency company, the victim winds up losing their money;
- investment scam: In this scheme, a fraudster contacts a victim, usually through social media. The suspect develops a friendship with the victim and grooms the victim over a period of time. The suspect proposes a cryptocurrency investment through a fake cryptocurrency company. When the victim invests their money, the victim may see returns, but—unbeknownst to the victim—have been fabricated. When the victim tries to withdraw their money, they discover that they’re unable to do so and the suspect ends all communication.
Anyone who may be suspicious about personal money transfers to someone they met online to call their local police department.
In addition to these scams, B.C. health officials and the West Vancouver Police Department are also warning that COVID-19 scams, particularly about vaccinations as the provincial immunization program continues on, are also being reported.