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Published February 14, 2024

Romance fraudsters love cryptocurrency, OPP warn public

Tips to avoid being a victim
OPP - CP
OPP-CP

News release - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)

Provincial police are informing the public about romance frauds involving cryptocurrencies this Valentine's Day, to keep money out of the hands of fraudsters. 

In 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received fraud reports totalling a staggering $554 million in victim losses, surpassing the 2022 historic loss amount of $530 million.

Of the $554 million in total reported losses, Romance frauds represented $50.3 million. Ontario victims reported losing more than $21 million. Investment frauds represented $309 million in reported losses in 2023. Ontario victims reported losing more than $111 million. Fraudsters are now blending the two frauds into crypto romance frauds.

How is cryptocurrency involved in romance frauds?

Victims of crypto romance fraud may be contacted on social media platforms or dating applications by a fraudster who is attempting to develop a romantic relationship with the victim. After trust is gained, the fraudster may claim that they have been a successful investor in cryptocurrency and offer to help the victim also make money.

Fraudsters use fake online investment apps or trading platforms to ask victims to transfer funds or cryptocurrency into their trading account. The victims are instructed to purchase cryptocurrency from a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange and transfer it to a crypto address controlled by the fraudster. Occasionally, the victim may be able to withdraw a small amount of their "investment" in the hopes they will invest even more of their money. The fraudster will do everything it takes to make the victim think that the investment is legitimate and lucrative. In most cases, victims realize they have been defrauded when they try to withdraw their funds and are unable to.

Tips to help protect yourself:

  • Don't accept friend requests from people you do not know.
  • Never send money to someone you haven't met.
  • Don't give out your personal information (name, address, date of birth, SIN, or banking credentials).
  • Don't allow remote access to any of your devices.
  • Be careful when sending cryptocurrency; once the transaction is completed, it is unlikely to be reversed.
  • Verify if the investment company are registered with the Provincial Securities Agency or the National Registration Search Tool (aretheyregistered.ca).

Remember…if you become a victim of fraud or know someone who has, contact your local police service to report the crime and report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.

Banner image - file photo - Barrie 360

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