March 2, 2018 12:47 pm
Updated: March 2, 2018 12:48 pm

Winnipeg police explain how to spot and avoid bitcoin scams

Bitcoin has gained a lot of attention lately but as part of Fraud Prevention Month the Winnipeg Police Service wants to get the message out about how to avoid scams involving the cryptocurrency.

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Winnipeg police are trying to educate people about bitcoin scams before it’s too late.

Bitcoin is a popular cryptocurrency that police say fraudsters can use for the wrong reasons.

“When it comes time to getting your money from you, they way that they’ve adjusted their methods with the availability of cryptocurrency, the availability to go in and convert your cash to cryptocurrency, that’s becoming easier,” Sgt. Shaun Veldman from the Winnipeg Police Financial Crimes Unit said.

“They’re now directing people that’s the way they want to get paid.”

“They’ll email them a QR code or the instructions on how to do the conversion in cryptocurrency and that’s kind of the change we’re seeing on the police side,” Veldman said.

READ MORE: Tempted to invest in Bitcoin? Here are a few things to consider

Police want people to know how much money is being lost because of these scams. In 2017, victims in Canada lost $2.5 million to fraudsters who utilized cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, as part of their scam.

Kevin Carthy, a Winnipeg bitcoin expert, says he’s seen employment scams increasing.

“What someone will do is they’ll post on traditional types of job sites and then the scammers will get people to  apply for a regular kind of job, they’ll tell them various types of jobs, and then… they’ll send money to their bank account,” said Carthy.

“Later on it’ll turn out that the funds that were send were through some sort of identity theft… and it’ll end up getting reversed on their bank account, and they’ll have to pay that back.”

There are many ways to learn more about fraud prevention in March.

Winnipeg Police Service events for the public include:

– National Twitter event – March 14, 12 – 2:30 pm

– Local Twitter event – March 28, 7 – 8 am, “Tweet a Cop” using #WPSFraudSquad. Questions can be submitted in advance on Twitter @wpgpolice

– Fifth Annual “Shred It” event – March 29, 11 a.m to 2 p.m, at St. Vital Centre in the parking lot outside Silver City and CF Polo Park in the South parking lot facing Portage Avenue. People are allowed a maximum of two bags or boxes per person for this free event.

If you or someone you know is involved in a potential scam involving cryptocurrency, contact Winnipeg Police to make a report or go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

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