Guelph police say its fraud unit has investigated more than $1 million in losses related to cryptocurrency scams this year.
The latest scams involve various residents losing thousands of dollars after being contacted by someone claiming to be with the Canada Border Services Agency.
The caller tells victims that a package containing illegal substances has arrived at the border with their name on it. To avoid being arrested, the victim is told to withdraw cash and deposit it into a Bitcoin ATM.
Fraud related to cryptocurrency is very difficult to investigate, police said in a news release on Thursday.
“The unfortunate reality with many of these types of crimes is that they are international and relatively untraceable and anonymous, causing major barriers to investigative success once the offence has been committed,” police said.
“That is why public education aimed at preventing residents from becoming victims is so important.”
The Guelph police service offers presentations to community groups aiming to spread awareness of these types of crimes. Presentations can be arranged by emailing the fraud unit.
With the holidays approaching, Guelph police have put out a list of common scams, and details on how to avoid falling victim.
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Cryptocurrency Investment Scams
Fraudsters are using social media and fraudulent websites to lure people into crypto investments. So ask for information on the investment and research the team behind the offering and analyze the feasibility of the project.
Fraudsters pose as genuine sellers and post fake ads for items that do not exist. The listing price for almost any item (e.g. event ticket, rental, vehicle or puppy) is usually too good to be true. Research before you buy. Whenever possible, exchange goods in person or use your credit card for payment.
Gift cards are a popular and convenient way to give a gift. They can also be considered cash. Once they are exchanged, it is unlikely that you are getting your money back. Gift cards are not meant for payments and no legitimate business or organization will request them.
Phishing emails and texts
You may receive messages claiming to be from a recognizable source (e.g. financial institution, a telecommunications company, service provider or a shipping company) asking you to submit or confirm your information. They may include a malicious link.
Fraudsters may call claiming to be the Canada Border Services Agency. They try to make you believe that a package addressed to you was intercepted by Canada Post containing illegal substances. They will ask for personal information including your Social Insurance Number, birth date, name, address and account balances. By providing your personal information to fraudsters you are at risk of identity fraud. They will also direct you to withdraw money from your bank accounts and then ask you to deposit it into a “safe account”. In rare cases, suspects may pose as police officers and present themselves at your house to pick up the money.