Police investigators are reporting that for 2022, victims of fraud in Maidstone have lost more than $570,000 in cryptocurrency.
Maidstone RCMP say they have 37 reports of people being fleeced by fraudulent calls and many of those involved cryptocurrency.
Investigators say the scammers tactics included:
- Authoritative fraud: a scammer pretends to be from a government agency, like the CRA or police, and demands payments for outstanding taxes or warrants for arrests. The scammer instructs victims to go to a cryptocurrency ATM in the city to purchase and send cryptocurrency.
- A “learn to trade in crypto program”: involves a scammer demanding a victim to send money to be able to learn how to trade cryptocurrency and make money. The scammer tells the victim to either send more money since the first amount never arrived, or to pay to send learning materials through the mail for the learning program.
- False advertising: Other reports include scammers luring victims using investment opportunities for cryptocurrencies to make a profit by creating links on various social media ads to steal investments. Scammers entice victims to invest from their personal savings and restrict all access to their accounts. Scammers create a fraudulent company online, or compromise a victim’s digital wallet– resulting in a complete loss of funds.
Constable Tyson Maxwell who is a crypto coordinator with the Saskatchewan RCMP says,”There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency companies in the market today. Some are legitimate companies, while others may have weak online security or are completely fraudulent. Investigating cryptocurrency fraud is complex as perpetrators are often at various international locations, or hiding through hard to trace IP addresses.”
The RCMP have resources available to track and trace some transactions, but they need to act fast. Multiple departments and agencies may be needed to investigate these cases.
“Once a crypto transaction has been completed, it cannot be reversed. If the investment looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you choose to invest, use a major reputable trading platform or online exchange and do your research to protect yourself,” says Cst. Maxwell.
He also recommends individuals monitor the price of cryptocurrency themselves on a reputable trading program.
“We have lots of investment scams, where the scammer says the victim made 20 per cent on their Ethereum investment for example – when they were actually going down 10 per cent. A good way to know if you’re being scammed is to verify through other sources what your investment company tells you.”
The Saskatchewan RCMP works closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to investigate cryptocurrency files.
Some warning signs of cryptocurrency fraud may include the following:
- investment opportunities with higher than normal returns
- unsolicited telephone, email or social media investment offers
- displays of urgency so you don’t miss out
- suspicious messages from a trusted source, like a bank or family member, or
- cryptocurrency investments that are not registered with provincial or national securities regulators
- contact pages that include an illegitimate address
More information from the RCMP on cryptocurrency is available online.
The RCMP indicate that cryptocurrency-enabled frauds in Canada climbed to $75 million in 2021, up from $22.8 million in 2020.