Winnipeg grocery store owner says numerous customers have been victims of Bitcoin scams

Food Fare store owner Husni Zeid has put a sign on the Bitcoin machine in his store, warning customers of scams involving the cryptocurrency. Marney Blunt / Global News

A Winnipeg grocery store owner is sounding the alarm over scams involving Bitcoin, after many of his customers were victimized.

Husni Zeid has put a large sign on the Bitcoin machine in his Food Fare store on Lilac Street, warning customers of phone scams involving the cryptocurrency.

“A lot of people are getting phone calls saying that they have to transfer the money to Bitcoin regarding CRA; we’ve had Manitoba Hydro as well,” Zeid told Global News.

Zeid and his staff say it’s happening multiple times a week.

“Yesterday (a) mom was in here and she said she gave all her savings to them and she was just crying. It was heartbreaking that she fell for it; it was sad,” employee Aura Morissette said.

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“And all she kept saying was ‘I have kids. (It) was awful.”

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The Food Fare employees have also taken it upon themselves to help prevent customers falling victim to the scams.

“As soon as we see someone (using the Bitcoin machine) and they’re on their cell phone, we always sort of interject just to make sure they’re not on the phone with (the scammers),” Morissette added. “Usually they are.”

Zeid says he’s fed up with it, and wants to get the machine out of his store.

“It’s to the point where it’s (so) frustrating I’m making calls to the Bitcoin machine owner to remove the machine,” he said.

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According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, several types of extortion scams involve the scammers demanding Bitcoin as payment, and they often become threatening or try to play on emotions.

The centre says you should never give out personal information over the phone, including your name, address, social insurance number, birth date, credit card, or banking information.

They also encourage you to do your research and verify with the company the scammer is claiming to be from, and don’t be afraid to simply hang up the phone.

If think you have been a victim of a scam, you can report the scam your local RCMP detachment and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

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