Guelph police are concerned about the growing number of cryptocurrency-related scams, which has totaled $1 million this year alone.
In a news release, the Guelph Police Service noted these type of scams are difficult to investigate.
“These can include investment scams, in which fraudsters attempt to lure people into crypto investments using social media and fraudulent websites,” said the release.
Police said the most recent trend involves someone claiming to represent Canada Border Services. The caller reportedly advises a package has arrived at the border with the victim’s name and contains illegal substances. In order to avoid being arrested, a number of Guelph victims were told to withdraw cash and deposit it into a Bitcoin ATM.
Fraud investigators said these types of crimes are “international and relatively untraceable and anonymous.”
Police are urging residents to educate themselves about cryptocurrency scams, and have held community group presentations in an attempt to reduce them.
Guelph police have seen an overall increase in online scams and issued this notice for the most common ones to watch out for:
Cryptocurrency Investment Scams: Fraudsters are using social media and fraudulent websites to lure people into crypto investments. Ask for information on the investment. Do your own research about the offering and the feasibility of the project. Verify if the company is registered by using the National Registration Tool.
Online Shopping: Fraudsters pose as genuine sellers and post fake ads for items that do not exist. The listing price for almost any item (e.g. event ticket, rental, vehicle or puppy) is usually too good to be true. Whenever possible, exchange goods in person or use your credit card for payment.
Gift Cards: Gift cards are not meant for payments and no legitimate business or organization will request these; especially with a time pressure.
Phishing emails and texts: Fraudulent messages claiming to be from a recognizable source (e.g. financial institution, telecommunications company, service provider, shipping company) asking you to submit or confirm your information. They may even include a malicious link.
Extortion Scams: Fraudsters may call claiming to be Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). They try to make you believe that a package addressed to you was intercepted by Canada Post containing illegal substances. They will ask for personal information including your SIN, DOB, name, address and account balances. By providing your personal information to fraudsters you are at risk of identity fraud. They will also direct you to withdraw money from your bank accounts and then ask you to deposit it into a “safe account”. In rare cases, suspects may pose as police officers and present themselves at your house to pick up the money. The scam is similar to previously reported Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and RCMP telephone extortion scams.
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