Despite previous warnings issued about cryptocurrency scams, investors in Metro Vancouver continue to be bilked by such schemes, and there’s been a recent string of frauds that resulted in thousands of dollars in losses.
The Delta Police Department (DPD) stated that it has received six complaints from residents in recent months (mostly in August) who attempted to invest in cryptocurrencies but wound up losing varying amounts ranging from $5,000 to up to $100,000 in one case.
Several common elements were in each of the reported cases.
In most of the cases, scammers contacted victims through online means, ranging from dating sites to chat apps, and developed a relationship with them.
In two of the cases, would-be investors clicked on an online ad which took them to a legitimate company.
Investors were encouraged to e-transfer funds from their bank accounts to mobile wallets, and then from there to unknown accounts.
In some of the cases, scammers helped the victims by guiding them through the process online and sometimes even asking the victim to download software so that the scammer could access their computer.
When the victims tried to withdraw their profits or investments, they discovered that their money was gone, or were informed that they would have to pay additional fees in order to access their money.
According to DPD Cybercrime section Const. Dustin Classen, these investors, unfortunately, are unable to recover their losses.
Cryptocurrency transactions aren’t reversible—once funds are sent, they can’t be recalled. Before transferring any money, the DPD recommends researching the name of the investment company online to see if anyone else has been scammed.
Classen advises anyone making an online investment to double-check the URL or domain of the investment website and to do research to find out if the investment firm is well-established and reputable.
For instance, the B.C. Securities Commission provides searchable lists of investment companies that are under investigation.
Also, the B.C. Securities Commission website provides advice and tips for investors as well as a video to provide more information about these scams.
In the video, B.C. Securities Commission investigator Chris Thompson says that scammers have creating more polished websites than in the past that are designed to replicate legitimate investment sites, and even include names of actual B.C. residents and companies (who may not realize their names are being used).
Investors can also check the Canadian Securities Administrators website to verify the registration of securities industry professionals.