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Warning issued after 78 Waterloo Region residents duped by Bitcoin scams in 2020

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Waterloo Regional Police have issued a warning to residents after dozens of people have fallen victim to Bitcoin scams in the area.

Police say scammers have been phoning people in the region while pretending to be representing Service Canada, Service Ontario, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and/or law enforcement agencies.

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The fraudsters attempt to scare people by saying they need to provide payment in cyber-based currency, also known as Bitcoin, in lieu of being arrested.

In some cases, they also claim that the victim’s Social Insurance Number (SIN) had been compromised, while in others, the victim is informed that they have debt owing to the CRA or Service Canada.

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Police say victims are commonly asked to verify personal and financial information, including their SIN. Victims are then told to go to their bank, withdraw funds, and go somewhere to make a Bitcoin transaction using a specific QR code. The scammer will try to keep the victim on the call so they can get the victim to attend several different Bitcoin locations to make deposits.

In another case, a victim was called by a ‘SIN card customer service representative.’ They were told that more than 25 bank accounts were opened in his name and several were involved in money laundering and fraud. In efforts to resolve any wrongdoing, the victim was told to deposit $10,000 in various Bitcoin machines across Waterloo Region. They were also told to not talks to friends or family members during the transaction.

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Yet another victim was told to go to a Bitcoin ATM location in Waterloo and deposit $19,000.

Police say, in total, area residents have been duped for more than $430,000 this year.

Twenty-nine of the 78 victims were scammed last month alone.

Police are advising residents to be wary of such phone calls as accredited businesses, government and law enforcement agencies will not:

  • call you and ask for personal information, while threatening to arrest you if you do not comply.
  • negotiate payments over the phone.
  • accept Bitcoin as payment.