Richmond Mounties are warning people to beware of romance scams, after a local spike in the cyber-crime.
The RCMP said it has received five such “romance/cryptocurrency” reports over a 10-day period earlier this month.
With so many reports in such a short time-frame, police want to ensure the community of Richmond knows that it’s not immune to the scams.
This year alone, Richmond RCMP have investigated 73 fraud files with a nexus to cryptocurrency.
“These scams can be hugely traumatizing for the victims as they truly believe they are involved in a romantic relationship,” explained Richmond RCMP’s Cpl. Adriana O’Malley.
“It shows just how far these fraudsters are willing to go to defraud people of their money.”
O’Malley said the fraudsters are adapting their techniques to the latest trends and technologies, using a variety of tactics to target 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 In many cases, people will continue investing until it becomes clear that their funds cannot be withdrawn.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.
O’Malley encouraged all victims of fraud to come forward and report the incidents to the police.