Burnaby RCMP is sounding the alarm over Bitcoin scams after three separate local cases in the last month.
One local resident was swindled out of $28,000 at the end of September and two other cases involved sums between $4,000 and $6,000, according to Sgt. Derek Thibodeau.
“It’s relatively new to us,” he said, “and that’s why we’re trying to be proactive and get out in front of it just to alert the public.”
In a new twist on an old con, fraudsters are posing as Canada Revenue Agency employees calling about unpaid taxes and threatening potential victims with arrest unless a Bitcoin payment is received immediately.
In a variation on the theme, fraudsters pose as police officers and tell potential victims that one of their relatives is in custody and an immediate Bitcoin bail payment is needed for their release.
The scams themselves are not new, according to Thibodeau, but this is the first time Burnaby RCMP has dealt with scammers demanding the cryptocurrency.
Neither the Canada Revenue Agency nor any police service in Canada accepts Bitcoin as a means of payment, he said.
Unfortunately, once the Bitcoin is sent, it’s practically impossible to trace or recover, according to Thibodeau.
The source of the fraud calls, whether they’re local or international, has also proved elusive, he said.
There are four Bitcoin ATMs located in businesses around Burnaby, and Mounties have put up warnings about the scams at each, according to Thibodeau.
Bitcoin can also be transferred online using a computer.
For more information about common scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.
Anyone with information about this scam contact Burnaby RCMP at 604-646-9999 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.