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B.C. shop owner stops customer from losing thousands of dollars to Bitcoin scam

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A B.C. convenience store owner is being praised by police for his efforts in preventing potential victims from falling for a Bitcoin scam.

Owner Ravi Patel and his wife Sarita of Mike’s Convenience Store in North Delta recently stopped a young man from depositing over $5,500 dollars at a Bitcoin ATM to fraudsters.

“We feel it is our duty to help,” Ravi told Consumer Matters.

Read more: $90K Bitcoin scam in Red Deer prevented by warning poster: RCMP

Delta police say an officer stopped by the store in November to tell Ravi and his wife a cryptocurrency scam was making the rounds in the community – targeting seniors and new Canadians who may be unfamiliar with Canadian laws.

“Unfortunately Bitcoin fraud has been growing in prevalence, and one of the best ways to counteract it is to ensure that everyone in the community is aware of this,“ Cris Leykauf, public affairs manager for Delta police, said.

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Ravi decided to post warning signs around the Bitcoin ATM located inside his store in both English and Hindi to alert customers about the scam.

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So far, the couple has been able to prevent several people from being duped out of thousands of dollars.

“At least seven to eight times we have stopped (people),” Patel said.

One girl was here, she had $7,000 and she deposited $3,700, and my wife and I both rushed to her, grabbed her hand, and then we stopped her.”

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The Bitcoin scam often involves fraudsters impersonating government officials or law enforcement agencies who then intimidate victims into withdrawing money from their personal accounts and then depositing the funds at a Bitcoin ATM machine.

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“The government does not demand any payment in Bitcoin. If any Canadian government agency demands you pay your bills, your taxes in Bitcoin, it’s a sure sign it’s a scam,” Leykauf said.

“Whenever your receive a call like this, or someone is threating you in any way, just hang up the phone and call police.”

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Delta police say the Bitcoin scam is targeting Canadians across the country and it’s on the rise.

“We noted that cybercrimes in Delta more than doubled from 2018 to 2019. Here in 2020, we’ve already seen a 15 percent increase throughout the year,” Leykauf said.

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Police also say these types of cybercrimes are difficult to solve, because Bitcoin is virtually impossible to trace.

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“So once that money is gone, it is gone,” Leykauf added.

Read more: Caller posing as cop scams Guelph woman out of $19K using bitcoin

Ravi Patel says he hopes his convenience store serves as an example in the community to help others from potentially losing their hard-earned savings.

“It’s all about saving people,” he said.

For more information on how to protect yourself, visit getcybersafe.ca