Police Say Guelphites Have Lost $1 Million to Crypto-Scams This Year

For the second time in the last couple of weeks, the Guelph Police Services Fraud Unit is warning Guelphites that online scams are out there, and ready to take money from unsuspecting people. The latest warning from police now comes with a price tag. According to police, Guelphites have lost $1 million in cryptocurrency scams in 2021, and there are all sorts of ways that they’re able to get your money.

“Recently, a number of Guelph residents have lost thousands of dollars after being contacted by someone claiming to represent Canada Border Services,” read a media releas from Guelph Police. “The caller advises a package has arrived at the border with the victim’s name on it and contains illegal substances. To avoid being arrested, the victim is told to withdraw cash and deposit it into a Bitcoin ATM.”

This was reported in Monday’s police media release, which reported that a 68-year-old Guelph man had fallen victim to this latest scam. The person claiming to be from Border Services, and with the man on the line they instructed him to withdraw $3,900 and deposit it into a Bitcoin terminal. The man then hung up on the caller when he was told to get additional funds from his line of credit and also deposit them into the Bitcoin machine.

“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,” said Guelph Police. “That is why public education aimed at preventing residents from becoming victims is so important.”

If you find yourself the victim of fraud, you can report it online to Guelph Police. You can also get in touch with Guelph Police to arrange a presentation about potential scams for your community group by sending a request to fraud [at] guelphpolice.ca.

In the meantime, police are warning people to be weary of these five common phone and online scams:

1) Cryptocurrency Investment Scams – Fraudsters are using social media and other fraudulent websites to lure people into crypto investments. Ask for information on the investment and research the team behind the offering and analyze the feasibility of the project. Verify if the company is registered by using the National Registration Tool.

2) Online Shopping – 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.

3) Gift Cards – Gift cards are popular and convenient way to give a gift. They should also be considered like 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 these; especially with a time pressure.

4) Phishing emails and texts – You may receive messages claiming to be from a recognizable source (e.g. financial institution, telecommunications company, service provider, shipping company) asking you to submit or confirm your information. They may even include a malicious link.

5) Extortion Scams – Fraudsters may call claiming to be Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). 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 SIN, DOB, 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. The scam is similar to previously reported Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and RCMP telephone extortion scams.

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