–SPN believes in fighting fraud with information. Too many fraudsters, not enough time and insufficient enforcement.
Vancouver Police are warning the public about a surge in cryptocurrency scams after local victims lost close to $2 million over a one-week period alone.
“Investigators believe this crime is underreported as victims often feel shame or embarrassment, making them reluctant to come forward to police,” says Constable Tania Visintin, VPD.
A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency, like Bitcoin, that is essentially an online version of cash. Cryptocurrency frauds are very difficult to investigate and the chances of locating and identifying a suspect are low, as suspects are often based overseas and mask their identity through sophisticated, untraceable VPN’s.
“Predators will often exploit two powerful human emotions – greed and love,” adds Constable Visintin. “Victims are typically lured in with the idea that they will be a part of an opportunity to make money or in other cases, they will be doing a friend or romantic interest a favour.”
Investigators from the VPD’s Financial Crime Unit have noticed there are two similar scenarios that have been reported recently with more frequency.
- The victim is approached through a social media channel or a dating site. The victim is groomed over a period of time and there is a romantic interest indicated by the suspect. The suspect convinces the victim to invest in cryptocurrency and provides excuses as to why they cannot meet in person. The victim ends up investing in a fake cryptocurrency company and loses all of their money.
- A victim is approached through a social media channel. The victim is groomed over a period of time and a friendship is formed. A cryptocurrency investment is proposed through a fake cryptocurrency company. The victim invests their money and sees returns which are fabricated. When the victim tries to withdraw their money, they are unable to do so and communication with the suspect ends.
Police are reminding everyone who may be suspicious about personal money transfers to someone they met online to call their local police department.