SURREY — Surrey RCMP are warning that scam artists are not shying away from technology.
The scams, which typically target the elderly and newcomers to Canada, are beginning to dive into the realm Bitcoin and “phone spoofing” technology.
Since January of this year, Surrey RCMP has received at least 14 reports where bitcoin was used as the payment form in a fraud.
Phone spoofing (calls that appear to be coming from local or familiar numbers to trick people into answering the phone and trusting the caller) and impersonation are even more common, police say.
Recently, Surrey RCMP was contacted after a woman sent money to an anonymous account and then realized she had been defrauded.
Police say the victim received a phone call that appeared to be coming from her husband’s cell phone. The man on the other end of the phone identified himself as a police officer, and told the woman that her husband had been arrested and bail money was required to secure his release.
The fraudster coached her into electronically depositing $4,800 into an anonymous account.
The woman’s husband came home soon after and she realized she had been duped.
“What’s unique in this instance is the victim was coerced into depositing ‘bitcoin’ into the fraudster’s anonymous account,” said Corporal Scotty Schumann in a release. “Bitcoin, a digital form of currency and payment, is extremely hard to track. We are also seeing fraudsters continuing to impersonate government agencies like the RCMP, Canada Revenue Agency and Canadian Border Services Agency. They often demand payment in the form of gift cards, money transfers or bitcoin so the payment is difficult for law enforcement to track.”
Police say to protect yourself, call the agency back at the number it’s publicly known to be, and verify the information.
Also, never provide payment to agencies in the form of gift cards or bitcoin, as government organizations would never ask for payment in these forms.
For more information on scam and fraud prevention please visit the Surrey RCMP’s website (surreyrcmp.ca). If you are a victim of fraud, please contact your local police and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online (antifraudcentre.ca).