More than $1M lost in crypto scams in 2021

The Guelph Police Service Fraud Unit is aware of a growing number of online scams and in particular cryptocurrency-related scams.  The anonymity of cryptocurrency lends itself to this type of fraudulent activity, which is very difficult to investigate.  

During 2021, the Fraud Unit has investigated more than $1 million in financial losses related to cryptocurrency scams. These can include investment scams, in which fraudsters attempt to lure people into crypto investments using social media and fraudulent websites.

Recently, a number of Guelph residents have lost thousands of dollars after being contacted by someone claiming to represent Canada Border Services. The caller advises a package has arrived at the border with the victim’s name on it and contains illegal substances. To avoid being arrested, the victim is told to withdraw cash and deposit it into a Bitcoin ATM.

The unfortunate reality with many of these types of crimes is that they are international and relatively untraceable and anonymous, causing major barriers to investigative success once the offence has been committed. That is why public education aimed at preventing residents from becoming victims is so important.

In the past year, members of the Guelph Police Service Fraud Unit have conducted more than 10 presentations to community groups in an attempt to reduce the number of victims of this type of crime.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Guelph Police Service or make an online report at our online reporting portal.

For more information about frauds or to arrange a presentation to your organization or community group please contact fraud@guelphpolice.ca.

With the holidays approaching, here are some of the more common scams to watch for:

  • Cryptocurrency Investment Scams
    Fraudsters are using social media and other fraudulent websites to lure people into crypto investments.  Ask for information on the investment and research the team behind the offering and analyze 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.  Research before you buy.  Whenever possible, exchange goods in person or use your credit card for payment. 
  • Gift Cards
    Gift cards are popular and convenient way to give a gift.  They should also be considered like cash; once they are exchanged, it is unlikely that you are getting your money back.  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
  • You may receive 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.    

 

For more tips about scams happening across Canada please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre where you can find the most up-to-date information on fraud.  You may also report fraud or attempts online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre as they track fraud-related data from across Canada.

 

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