The New Westminster Police Department is warning residents about the “startling” number of scammers who are requesting cryptocurrency.
According to the NWPD, scammers will use dating apps, online ads or phone calls to manipulate people into sending them cryptocurrency. When scammers use phone calls in this scam, police say they’ll identify themselves as employees of legitimate organizations, such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Court Services or the New Westminster Police Department.
But the NWPD warns that in an attempt to look more credible, the scammers will manipulate their phone numbers, so the call display looks as though it’s coming from the organization they claim to represent. They tell victims that they owe money and must pay immediately or they’ll be arrested.
“A request for cryptocurrency is a huge red flag,” said NWPD spokesperson Sgt. Sanjay Kumar. “If you are ever contacted out of the blue by someone demanding cryptocurrency, it’s a scam.”
The NWPD says the best course of action to take to prevent others from falling victim to cryptocurrency (digital currency) scams is to talk to friends and family about how the scams work.
After intimidating or manipulating the victim, the scammer will direct them to a nearby cryptocurrency ATM, which is used to exchange cash for cryptocurrency. The scammer then directs the victim to send them the cryptocurrency.
According to the NWPD, the exchange happens within minutes, is irreversible, cannot be tracked, and the scammers remain anonymous, said the New Westminster Police Department.
“The frequency of these scams is startling,” Kumar said. “An officer here in New Westminster shared they’ve spoken to four victims in the last three weeks. There’s little we can do once the cryptocurrency is sent, which is why we’re asking residents to help us share this information with friends and family. The New Westminster police, the CRA and the New Westminster courthouse will never call someone demanding money, let alone, provide instructions on how to obtain the money and how to send it.”
If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, you can report it to the local police. You can also report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.