Waterloo Regional Police Warn Residents About Bitcoin Scams After 78 Local Residents Fall Victim

media release

The Waterloo Regional Police Service is issuing a warning to residents after several people have recently fallen victim to the Bitcoin scam.

This scam involves fraudsters making telephone calls and posing as Service Canada, Service Ontario, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and/or law enforcement agencies. Fraudsters reportedly used threatening and coercive language to impose fear in efforts to receive payment in cyber based currency, also known as Bitcoin, in lieu of being arrested. 

In some instances, fraudsters claimed that the victim’s Social Insurance Number (SIN) had been compromised. In other instances, the victim was informed that he or she had debt owing to the CRA or Service Canada.

Since January 1, 2020, seventy-eight people have fallen victim to the Bitcoin scam in Waterloo Region, resulting in a total loss of more than $430,000. Twenty-nine occurred in July 2020.

During the scam, victims are commonly asked to verify personal and financial information, including their social insurance number. Victims are then directed to attend their banking institution, make a withdrawal, and attend a specific address to make a bitcoin transaction using a specific QR code. The fraudster will attempt to keep the victim on the phone and, in some instances, direct the victim to attend several different bitcoin locations to make deposits.

In several instances, victims reported that the fraudster requested they provide a local Police Service number so they could share details of the investigation. Victims the reported that they received a call from what appeared to be the Waterloo Regional Police non-emergency number (519-570-9777).  (This is a form of spoofing- fraudsters will attempt to disguise a phone number from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source, in efforts to make a financial gain).

In another instance, a victim received a phone call from a ‘SIN card customer service representative’. The victim was advised that more than 25 bank accounts were opened in his name and several were involved in money laundering and fraud. In efforts to resolve any wrong doing, the victim was directed to deposit $10,000.00 in various Bitcoin machines across Waterloo Region. They were also directed to not communicate with any friends or family members during the transaction.

In another instance, a victim was directed to attend a Bitcoin ATM location in Waterloo and deposit $19,000.00.

Members of the public are advised to be cautious of such scams. Accredited businesses, Government and law enforcement agencies will not:

  • call you and ask for personal information, while threatening to arrest you if you do not comply.  
  • negotiate payments over the phone.
  • accept Bitcoin as payment.  

If you have been a victim of a scam and suffered a financial loss, please report the incident on-line at www.wrps.on.ca/onlinereporting or call our non-emergency number at 519-570-9777. 

If you received one of these calls/messages but did not experience a financial loss, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca

#StopPauseThink, and review the following safety tips to prevent becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Never wire, send, or e-transfer money based on a request made over the phone
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly and watch out for urgent pleas that play on your emotions. Fraudsters will attempt to elicit fear in efforts to make a financial gain, and may direct you to not communicate with family or friends prior to the transaction.
  • Do not provide personal information (e.g. SIN, passport number, credit card numbers, or banking information) over the phone unless you placed the call and you know who you are speaking to.  
  • If you suspect a scam, hang up. Do some research to determine validity.  
  • Consider sharing this information with friends, neighbours, and family members who may not be connected to social media or who may have missed previous warnings in the news.

For additional resources and information pertaining to scams and frauds is also available in various languages, visit:

www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/security/protect-yourself-against-fraud.html

www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04333.html,

www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm

Media Inquiries:

Ashley Dietrich
Constable #1305
Public Information Officer, Executive Branch
Waterloo Regional Police Service
519-570-9777 (WRPS) ext. 8285
ashley.dietrich@wrps.on.ca

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