Over $300,000 lost to recent bitcoin scam, says South Simcoe Police

Four incidences reported in the last week

via South Simcoe Police Service

South Simcoe Police Service is issuing a warning after several residents have fallen victim to bitcoin scams with total losses over $300,000.

Police have received four reports this week. In one case, an Innisfil man invested a large sum of money in bitcoin with an online trading company that falsely indicated his equity was growing. When he attempted to withdraw some cash, the company ceased communication.

Often these bitcoin scams involve a phone call threatening arrest if you don’t comply with demands. Fraudsters spoof police phone numbers to add the appearance of legitimacy to the call. That happened yesterday to a Bradford woman who was instructed to deposit several thousand dollars in a bitcoin machine at a local convenience store.

Residents of all ages are being victimized by fraud and we urge you to be vigilant. Watch for these red flags if you are contacted by a person or agency who asks for personal information while threatening to arrest you if you do not comply, wants to negotiate payments over the phone, or demands Bitcoin, iTunes/gift cards as payment

Here are some tips to prevent becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Avoid investing with unknown companies over the internet, especially when they deal in Bitcoin, as the financial transactions can be difficult to trace.
  • 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 cause fear in efforts to make a financial gain, and may direct you to not communicate with family or friends during the transaction.
  • Do not provide personal information (e.g., SIN, passport number, credit card numbers, or banking information) over the phone unless you made the call and know who you are speaking to.
  • If you suspect a scam, hang up. Do some research to determine the legitimacy of the individual calling.
  • Share this information with friends, neighbours, and family members who may not be connected to social media or who may have missed previous warnings on the news

Trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, hang up, disengage and take a pause to think. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Report fraud to the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.