Police in Richmond are warning would-be investors to be cautious, after receiving 22 reports of cryptocurrency frauds so far in 2022, totalling a loss of about $2.6 million.
In one case, a victim was defrauded of $550,000 after investing in what he was led to believe were legitimate foreign exchange companies.
“These fraudsters know exactly what they are doing and once they have the money, it’s easy to move it so it cannot be traced or recovered,” said Cpl. Melissa Liu with the Richmond RCMP’s economic crime unit.
Among the 22 reports received in Richmond, police say there are three dominant trends: fake investment schemes, romance scams or fraudsters posing as government representatives.
Fake investment schemes propose high reward and return for a target’s financial investment.
Romance scams often prey on those who are dating online, building a relationship and sense of trust before asking the victim for money to help the fraudster out of a tricky situation. Other victims may be approached by fraudsters pretending to be a government official or representative of the Canadian Revenue Agency, seeking tax payments or risk penalties.
“Unfortunately, these fraudsters keep finding new and unsuspecting victims,” said Liu.
“We want to keep your money out of these fraudsters hands, which is why we will continue to remind and work hard to educate the public about cryptocurrency frauds.”
Last year, Richmond RCMP launched a public awareness campaign that invited businesses hosting Bitcoin machines and gift card carousels to voluntarily post cautionary information or posters, alerting customers on how to spot cryptocurrency scams.
To avoid cryptocurrency frauds, Richmond RCMP suggest the following:
• Independently research a company to ensure it is legitimate before investing.
• Be wary of a government agency or representative who seeks payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.
• Do not hand over money to an online dating match who has refused to meet in person.
Anyone who believes they may have been defrauded should contact local police and report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
• Here are more tips on how to avoid being scammed
• Here are the top 10 scams in Canada: BBB
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