VANCOUVER and SURREY, BC, Nov. 3, 2021 /CNW/ – The B.C. RCMP, British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and municipal police are warning the public about an emerging trend of fraudsters using social media and online dating sites to lure B.C. residents into crypto-asset scams.
In the first eight months of 2021, British Columbians reported losses of $3.5 million from crypto investment scams – more than triple the amount lost last year, which was just over $1 million, according to CAFC data. On average, only five per cent of fraud victims report such incidents to authorities.
Fraudsters are adapting their techniques to the latest trends and technologies, using a variety of tactics to defraud victims:
People are approached via dating apps or other social media sites. After developing an online relationship, the fraudster brings up an “investment opportunity” and convinces the person to make an initial payment. The fraudster is often able to convince victims to continue investing, which can lead to substantial losses.
The fraudsters identify a person’s friend, and then take control of the friend’s social media accounts. The suspect, posing as the friend, easily convinces the person to take advantage of the supposed investment opportunity.
Fraudsters research their potential victims online, including reviewing their social media posts, in order to come up with tailored strategy for each victim to maximize their chances of success.
The fraudster, while calling with a pitch for crypto-asset investment, convinces a person to provide remote access to his or her computer. The suspect shows the person a fraudulent crypto investing website that promises substantial returns. In many cases, people will continue investing until it becomes clear that their funds cannot be withdrawn.
Fraudsters may claim that they will use an investor’s money to buy digital currencies, and then cut off all communication after receiving the funds.
The BC RCMP, BCSC, CAFC and municipal police are urging British Columbians to exercise caution when buying or selling crypto-assets due to various risks, including the loss of some or all of their investment. According to the CAFC, there has been a 5600 per cent increase in fraud to a total of $28.5 million involving cryptocurrency in Canada since 2015. This upward trend is expected to continue.
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