Date: Monday, December 5, 2022
Victoria, BC – Investigators are warning the public to be on the lookout for similar scams after a phishing and bitcoin scam cost a victim $49,999.
Investigators learned that the victim received an email, which appeared to be from PayPal, indicating that they owed $499 and that urgent action was required. The email included a phone number which the victim called. The fraudsters were then able to convince the victim that they did not owe $499, but in fact, owed $49,999. They then directed the victim to their financial institution to withdraw the funds.
Knowing that withdrawing this amount of cash is a “red flag” that financial services staff look for, the fraudsters coached the victim to report that the money was being withdrawn to purchase property. The fraudsters then directed the victim to deposit the cash through various Bitcoin ATMs throughout Greater Victoria. It was only then that the victim realized they had been the victim of a fraud and contacted police.
How to help your friends and family avoid becoming the victims of frauds
Being informed – and ensuring that friends and family are informed – is the greatest protection against frauds of this type. The fraudsters in this file combined cybercrime and manipulation to contact the victim, convince them they owed funds, and then overcome safety measures at their financial institution by lying to financial services staff, before travelling to various locations across Greater Victoria to deposit the funds. These professional criminals use the combination of technology and intimidation to overwhelm their victims’ good sense.
Investigators are often able to recognize scams by both the techniques used and the key elements of the scam itself. These recognizable elements in turn can be useful to you to help determine that an email or a phone call is a fraud attempt. Please share the elements of this fraud and these key warning signs with your family and friends:
- If someone contacts you, demands money and also demands that you don’t tell anyone, it is likely a fraud;
- If someone contacts you to tell you that you owe money, but then significantly increases the amount you seemingly owe after contacting them, it is likely a fraud;
- If someone asks you to lie about the purpose of withdrawing money, it is likely a fraud;
- If a business asks you to deposit cash into a Bitcoin ATM for payment, it is likely a fraud;
In this file, it is unlikely that the victim will see any of the $49,999 recovered.
A video version of this Community Update is available here: https://www.instagram.com/p/ClzY9G1grLt/
We’re seeking qualified candidates for both police officer and civilian positions. Thinking about a career in public service? Join VicPD and help us make Victoria and Esquimalt a safer community together.