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Surrey residents scammed out of $12M in cryptocurrency in 2023: RCMP

Cryptocurrency and job scams are on the rise in Surrey, police say

Surrey residents lost over $12 million in 2023 due to fraud involving cryptocurrency, police say.

Police in Surrey issued a news release Thursday (March. 7) warning the public about the most common scams happening in Surrey and how to avoid them.

In 2023, the Surrey RCMP received 229 reports of fraud that involved cryptocurrency. “The majority of frauds were related to investment scams,” reads the Surrey RCMP release.

In the first two months of 2024, police in Surrey received 50 reports of fraud involving cryptocurrency and Surrey residents losing $3.2 million.

“In these scams, victims were introduced to cryptocurrency-related investments via social media, phone calls, online advertisements, and online dating platforms,” police say.

“Using spoofed websites and mobile applications with fake trades and profits, the victims are encouraged to invest money on the investing platform. When the victim attempts to withdraw their investments, they are typically asked for more money for taxes and other fees.”

“Eventually, the scammer stops communicating with the victim, and the victim realizes they have been defrauded of all the money they believed they were investing.”

Police included a list of other scams of note:

• Job Scams: Police in Surrey have seen an increase in the number of job scams cryptocurrency in 2024. “The job scams involve the scammers impersonating legitimate companies and asking the applicant for payment of supplies or to begin training. These fake jobs are often for reviewing products, websites or crypto trading and will request funds to be sent in cryptocurrency with promises to send money back to the victim,” reads the release.

• Grandparent Scam: Scammers call seniors and claim to be a family member and demand bail money for a family member.

• Rental Scam: The scammer will ask for personal information and an e-transfer without meeting in person. Once the money is received, communication with the potential renter usually ends, police say.

• Bank Scam: “The fraudster impersonates a bank employee to ask you to assist in an investigation or advises there has been illegal activity with your bank account. Often the scammer will request money to be sent via crypto or gift cards. Do not send any money and attend your local bank branch.”

• Cellphone Scam: “Phone calls and texts are received from spoofed phone numbers with someone pretending to be from a phone company and offering deals on iPhones. The fraudsters use these scams to gather personal and financial information to commit fraud and identity theft.”

• Fake Bank Drafts: “Buyers of vehicles and luxury items, such as watches and designer handbags are providing bank drafts as payment. A recent surge in reports of fraudulent drafts has been reported where these bank drafts appear authentic and are of such high quality, they are often unnoticed by banks as being counterfeit. For these types of payments, it is recommended to attend the issuing bank with the purchaser to be able to confirm the validity of the bank”

Police say if you have given any personal information like your passport, SIN, or driver’s licence, contact Equifax and TransUnion, “the two main credit bureaus in Canada to prevent potential fraud.”

One way to protect yourself from scams is to learn about the most recent scams. To see a list of current scams or to report fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online.

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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