An Alberta man is warning others after losing $8,500 to an old scam with a new twist.
Edmontonian Robert Cronkhite told Global News he received a call on Wednesday from someone claiming to be with Service Canada. He said he hung up twice, believing it to be a scam. But by the third time he got the call, he said he started to believe it.
“They used good jargon. They’re very convincing,” he said. “He told me Service Canada was going to help me out and protect my money.”
Cronkhite said the caller told him his social insurance number had been used in Montreal to set up a bank account in his name and it was being used to launder drug money.
“There’s $1.7 million in that account,” he said he was told.
While he was on his home phone with the caller supposedly from Service Canada, Cronkhite said he then got a call on his cellphone from a number very similar to a local RCMP detachment.
He said he spoke with an “officer” who provided a badge number and warned that a warrant had been issued for his arrest and if he didn’t want to be jailed for money laundering he would have to withdraw all of his funds from his bank.
“I left enough in my accounts to cover service fees and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I didn’t close my accounts, but they’re empty.”
Cronkhite was then provided a QR code and was instructed to deposit his money in a so-called “safe wallet” via a local bitcoin machine, which he did.
He has no hopes of getting his $8,500 back.
The Government of Canada issued warnings about these types of scams, saying many fraudsters attempt to imitate government services in order to gain access to personal and financial information.
The government said scammers often use emails, websites, text messages and telephone calls supposedly from Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency to get that information.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the RCMP have also warned these types of scams are on the rise and evolving. While scammers used to ask for gift cards as a payment, cryptocurrency is now more often utilized.
Cryptocurrency scams are one of the top frauds right now, costing Canadian consumers more than $120 million in 2021 alone, according to RCMP.
Canadians are being reminded that no level of government or police force will use these type of tactics or this method of payment to get any funds owed or make any arrests.
Cronkhite told Global News he was thrown off by the fact the caller knew so much personal information about him and they were not asking for gift cards as payment. He said he also truly believed he was speaking with an actual RCMP officer.
That’s when he said he started to panic.
“I was told my phones were bugged, everything was bugged. They said I was being followed and then when you start seeing police cars behind you, you start to believe.”
Once his daughter alerted him to the fact it was a scam, he contacted Edmonton police and confirmed it was a scam.
Cronkhite said he knows he made a mistake — a very costly costly one. He just wants to warn others so they don’t fall victim.