British Columbians reported $3.5 million in losses to cryptocurrency investment scams in the first eight months of 2021, prompting warnings from law enforcement.
The latest losses are three times more than similar scams in 2020. Since 2015, Canadians have lost a total of $28.5 million to such scams with those numbers expected to continue climbing, according to a news release.
B.C. RCMP and expert groups said there is an emerging trend of fraudsters using social media and online dating sites to lure potential victims.
One of the various ways fraudsters are bilking victims include by building a relationship with their victims online before bringing up an investment opportunity and convincing their victims to make an initial payment.
Other methods include taking control of a social media account and using it to convince friends to make payments or calling potential victims and convincing them to allow remote access to their computer so they can be shown a legitimate-looking investment website promising significant returns.
“Be extremely wary if you are contacted out of the blue or promised high returns that sound too good to be true. Always research the investment and the person selling it before you invest,” said Doug Muir, B.C. Securities Commission’s director of enforcement.
To protect yourself from such scams, residents are encouraged to purchase cryptocurrencies only from trading platforms registered with the Canadian Securities Administration National Registration Search. Interested investors are also warned to never invest or send money based solely on the advice of someone they’ve met online and to be cautious of all unsolicited investment offers promising high returns with low risk.
The agencies also encourage people to ask plenty of questions about any offer and to resist any pressure to buy for fear of missing an opportunity.
Victims should contact police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online, even if no money was lost. Victims of an investment scam should also report it the securities commission.