RCMP says cryptocurrency frauds were rampant in Swift Current, Maidstone in ’22

The Saskatchewan RCMP says cryptocurrency frauds netted scammers more than $900,000 in the Swift Current and Maidstone areas alone in 2022.

In a media release Monday, the Mounties said they had seen an increase in crypto frauds last year.

That included 105 reports of people being victimized by fraudulent calls in Swift Current. The victims reported more than $361,000 in cryptocurrency fraud losses.

In the Maidstone area, there were 37 reports of people being taken in by fraudsters — and more than $570,000 in cryptocurrency fraud losses were reported.

According to the RCMP, there were a number of tactics used by the scammers, including:

  • Authoritative fraud: A scammer pretends to be from a government agency and demands payments for outstanding taxes or warrants for arrests. The scammer instructs victims to go to a cryptocurrency ATM in the city to purchase and send cryptocurrency;
  • A “learn to trade in crypto program:” A scammer tells a victim to send money so they can learn how to trade cryptocurrency and make money. The scammer gets the victim to send more money since the first amount never arrived, or to pay to send learning materials through the mail for the learning program.
  • False advertising: Scammers lure victims using investment opportunities for cryptocurrencies to make a profit by creating links on various social media advertisements to steal investments. The fraudsters also entice victims to invest from their personal savings and then restrict all access to their accounts. Scammers also could create a fraudulent company online, or compromise a victim’s digital wallet — resulting in a complete loss of funds.

“There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency companies in the market today. Some are legitimate companies, while others may have weak online security or are completely fraudulent,” Const. Tyson Maxwell, one of the Saskatchewan RCMP’s two crypto co-ordinators, said in the release.

“Investigating cryptocurrency fraud is complex as perpetrators are often at various international locations, or hiding through hard-to-trace IP addresses.”

The Mounties need to be told quickly if a fraud has been perpetrated, as several departments and agencies may be needed to investigate.

“Once a crypto transaction has been completed, it cannot be reversed,” Maxwell said in the release. “If the investment looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you choose to invest, use a major reputable trading platform or online exchange and do your research to protect yourself.”

The RCMP reminded people who are the victims of fraud to report it to their local police department as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

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