Peterborough County OPP is seeing an increase in fraud complaints relating to crypto investment scams and are warning residents to avoid them.
Police say they’re seeing two specific variations of the scam involving social media platforms.
In some cases, the scam starts on a social media or dating website as a romance scam and quickly turns into an investment opportunity, according to police.
Police state victims often lose larger sums of money because of the level of trust that’s gained by the suspect in this scenario and in some cases the suspect will compromise the victim’s friends’ social media accounts, so the victim thinks they’re communicating with a known friend.
The suspect will call the victim directly and convince them to invest in cryptocurrency and sometimes will ask the victim for remote access to the victim’s computer or will send an email to the victim offering a crypto investment opportunity.
The other scenario that’s circulating right now, according to police, is one where the victim clicks an ad on social media and then provides contact information.
The suspect will then contact the victim and convince them to invest.
Police say to watch for several warning signs including:
- Investment opportunities with higher-than-normal returns.
- Unsolicited telephone, email or social media investment offers.
- Displays of urgency so you don’t miss out.
- An individual met on a dating or social media website who quickly attempts to convince you to invest into crypto currency.
- A friend tells you about a crypto currency investment opportunity via social media or email.
- Telephone calls from crypto investment companies.
- Fraudulent ads posted on the internet or social media.
- Request to transfer your crypto investment to an alternate crypto address.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), investment scams were the highest reported scams nationally based on dollar-loss in 2021 at $163.9 million.
Police say it’s important to protect yourself from scammers by doing the following:
- Be careful when sending cryptocurrency. Once the transaction is completed, it is unlikely to be reversed.
- As proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering regimes around the world create regulatory frameworks that treat businesses dealing in crypto currencies as money service businesses, Canadians need do their research to ensure they are using reputable and compliant services.
- If you receive a suspicious message from a trusted friend, reach out to them through a different means of communication to confirm that it is them.
- Verify if the investment companies are registered with your Provincial Securities Agency or the National Registration Search Tool (www.aretheyregistered.ca).
- Prior to investing, ask for information about the investment. Research the team behind the offering and analyze the feasibility of the project.
- Be especially weary of individuals met on dating sites who attempt to educate and convince you to invest into crypto currency.
- Beware of fraudsters asking you to open and fund new crypto accounts. They will direct you to send it to wallets they control. Don’t!
Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of a cybercrime or know someone who has, to contact your local police service and report it to the CAFC reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
If you haven’t been victimized, but are aware of a scam, you’re still asked to report it to the CAFC so that it can alert others.