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Burnaby senior loses more than $7.5M in 'elaborate' scam

Burnaby RCMP say the case is one of the largest personal scams the detachment has ever investigated.
Mounties in Burnaby are issuing a public warning after a Burnaby senior was defrauded out of more than $7.5 million.

Burnaby Mounties are issuing a warning after a local senior was defrauded out of millions of dollars in an "elaborate" long-term cryptocurrency scam. 

Police say a woman contacted them in December of last year, saying she had been scammed out of a large amount of money. 

The victim told police she had received a text message in Mandarin in the spring of 2022 from a person who had contacted them for information involving the victim's personal business history. 

Police say the scam escalated over several months, with the scammer creating a "friendly relationship" with the victim and communicating in Mandarin by phone, text, email and through a chat app.

"After gaining the victim’s trust, the fraudster then convinced the victim to invest millions of dollars through several transactions into a cryptocurrency wallet through an online trading app," a news release said. 

"While the victim was later able to check the balance of her investments online, it appears this was done through spoofed apps mirroring the look of legitimate cryptocurrency trading platforms." 

Download links to the apps were sent directly from the scammers to the victim. 

Once the victim tried to withdraw money, they discovered they weren't able to. Police add the person she had been talking with disappeared. 

The victim was then allegedly contacted by someone using a different name, saying they could help her get her money back.

RCMP say the victim, who was allegedly pressured and threatened throughout the scam, invested more money, but it was also a scam. 

"We are sharing this story to protect other people from falling victim to similar scams," Burnaby RCMP Cpl. Philip Ho said in the release. 

"Fraudsters are often changing tactics. In this case, it appears they were able to tailor the scam to target this victim in particular using information about her career and business history to first build trust and friendship.

"These scammers went to great lengths over many months to defraud this senior and convince her these were legitimate investments. These types of frauds often go unreported, but it’s important that victims come forward to police so we can investigate and help support victims, who are at a higher risk of being re-victimized once they have been defrauded by a scam." 

Burnaby RCMP is reminding the public to be aware of the following warning signs that are seen in cryptocurrency frauds: 

  • An unusual high return on investments in a short amount of time
  • Suspects messaging victims at all times of the day, taking interest in their personal life
  • Suspects providing victims with excuses to use when going to the bank to take out money
  • No formal investment contract or information relating to the product being purchased