Richmond RCMP is warning the public to be vigilant when it comes to cryptocurrency scams.
Twenty-two reports of cryptocurrency frauds with an approximate amount of $2.6 million have been reported to the Richmond RCMP this year.
According to police, fraud reports highlight three main trends that involve fake investment schemes, romance scams or individuals pretending to be government agency representatives.
Cpl. Melissa Lui, spokesperson of Richmond RCMP Economic Crime Unit, said one investigation involved a victim who was reportedly defrauded $550,000.
“In this case, the victim made a series of investments in what he believed were legitimate foreign exchange companies only to discover he’d been tricked,” said Lui.
“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.”
Fraudsters are known to be “extremely convincing” and use multiple tactics to trick people such as charming or threatening them.
Richmond RCMP launched a campaign in March 2020 for local businesses to display a sign near bitcoin machines, gift card carousels or tills to warn the public of these scams.
While the program was voluntary, said the Richmond RCMP, it was welcomed by various businesses in the city.
“Unfortunately, these fraudsters keep finding new and unsuspecting victims,” said Lui.
“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.”
To help prevent people from becoming a victim of cryptocurrency frauds, Richmond RCMP is recommending people to:
- Do their own due diligence, research a company to confirm its legitimacy before investing;
- If someone claiming to be from a government agency asks for bitcoin, google play or iTunes gift cards as a method of payment hang up immediately. No government agency would accept these methods as payment;
- If you meet someone online via a dating app or other social media sites who always has an excuse to not meet in person but brings up an investment opportunity do not invest or give them money.
Victims of fraud or those suspecting someone of trying to scam others are asked to contact their local police.
For more information, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.