Thunder Bay – NEWS – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is raising awareness about the increasing prevalence of crypto investment scams targeting the public and businesses. These schemes, often involving deceptive advertising and fraudulent trading platforms, have led to significant financial losses.
In typical crypto investment scams, Canadians are lured by deceptive ads to invest in cryptocurrency. Victims download a trading platform and transfer cryptocurrency into their accounts, only to find later that they are unable to withdraw their funds. Many of these platforms are believed to be controlled by fraudsters.
Detective Sergeant Robert Labelle of the Nipissing West OPP Area Crime Unit emphasizes the importance of awareness and education in combating these scams. “Awareness is key when it comes to recognizing frauds and scams. Don’t keep it a secret – talk to a friend, family member, neighbour, or police before making any decisions to send money to people you don’t know,” he advises.
Variations of Crypto Investment Scams:
- Social Media and Romance Scams: Victims are approached on dating or social media sites. Initially a romance scam, it quickly shifts to a supposedly lucrative investment opportunity.
- Compromised Accounts: Fraudsters hack social media accounts of victims’ friends, convincing them to invest through the guise of trusted contacts.
- Direct Calls: Victims receive direct calls from suspects who convince them to invest in cryptocurrency, often gaining remote access to their computers to show fraudulent investment websites.
- Email and Advertisement Scams: Victims receive emails or see social media ads for crypto investments, leading to telephone follow-ups by scammers.
Warning Signs and Protection Measures:
- Irreversible Transactions: Be cautious with cryptocurrency transactions; they are typically irreversible.
- Reputable Services: Ensure that the services used are reputable and compliant with anti-money laundering regulations.
- Verify Suspicious Messages: Confirm the authenticity of unexpected investment opportunities, especially those from trusted contacts.
- Check Registration: Verify if investment companies are registered with Provincial Securities Agencies or the National Registration Search Tool (www.aretheyregistered.ca).
- Research Before Investing: Investigate the legitimacy of the investment, including the team behind it and the project’s feasibility.
- Be Skeptical of New Contacts: Exercise caution with individuals met on social platforms who push for crypto investments.
- Avoid Unverified Crypto Accounts: Do not open or fund new crypto accounts based on external directives.
If you suspect you’re dealing with a fraudster on the phone, hang up immediately. Reports of such scams can be made to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or through their website at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.