After seeing an ad for bitcoin and pondering the possible investment, 77-year-old Lynda Krauza decided she wanted to get into the cryptocurrency market.
Krauza said her husband has been in and out of Kelowna’s hospital, and she could use the money.
“My kids have helped me tremendously, and I just wanted to be able to pay them back,” she said.
It all started in June, when Krauza entered her email and phone number into a bitcoin website.
She said it didn’t take long for the phone calls to start rolling in.
Krauza said she started out by investing $250 at first.
“It snowballed from there,” she said.
Krauza said she was soon e-transferring $3,000 lump sum payments from her bank to a supposed bitcoin account.
“These people walked her through every step and gave her ideas to do things and go to the bank and get an increase on (credit),” said Colleen Greer, Krauza’s daughter. “And they got into her iPad with any desk and then they could see everything, so they knew exactly how much money she had.”
Her daughter became suspicious after she noticed Krauza was receiving two dozen calls a day.
“And so we started writing down the numbers of who’s calling, but she had a name for every one of those people that called her,” Greer said.
The elaborate scam even has a supposed banking portal with two-factor authentication showing a fake balance, Krauza said.
“It does look real when you look at the websites,” Greer said.
After she realized something was going on, Greer answered her mom’s phone and demanded a withdrawal.
That would be the fraudsters final phone call to Krauza.
The senior said she tracked the phone numbers and emails of people she was speaking with, but they’ve now all been blocked.
She estimates she’s out $34,000.
“It’s all I had. They even took my pension cheque,” Krauza said. “Some people treat people worse than animals.”
“They’ll take every last cent you have.”
Krauza says her bank’s fraud department is looking into the matter, and she’s hoping at least some of the money can be recovered.
RCMP confirmed they are investigating.
“Unfortunately, it is a very common scam that occurs not only here in Kelowna, but all over Canada and affects individuals of all ages,” Const. Solana Paré said in an email.
Bitcoin transfer is virtually untraceable and provides fraudsters with protection and anonymitiy from their victims, she said.
“Scammers can access the coins from anywhere in the world which further hampers their prosecution, even if they could be identified,” Paré added.