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‘I got sucked into a vortex’: B.C. woman reveals brush with crypto scammer

Authorities offer tips on how to avoid getting caught up in such scams
Beware of investment pitches over social media. (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

A Victoria woman is warning other residents to be careful after a brush with a scammer trying to get her to invest in a fake crypto scheme.

Grace (Black Press Media is not revealing her last name to protect her from future scams) is a Victoria resident in her late 20s who received a series of unsolicited offers on social media to discuss a possible crypto investment.

Grace said she’d been looking to invest some money and asked friends on social media if they had any ideas.

“He was very charming and funny,” said Grace. “He seems very genuine at first, saying that he didn’t trust banks and their high fees.”

Grace identified with that and had heard lots about crypto, but didn’t understand it. The person who approached made things sound simple at first and kept mentioning “guaranteed” returns on a small amount of money. But once she started asking more questions, the person’s explanations got more and more complicated with a lot of jargon.

“He kept telling me to trust him,” Grace said, adding that after asking for more information, “I got sucked into a vortex of information that didn’t make any sense.”

Grace admitted she felt some FOMO (fear of missing out) and was close to sending an initial payment. That’s when she asked the person for some credentials saying that he was registered to do investments.

That’s when the person started stalling, leading Grace to change her mind – saying it definitely felt like a scam.

According to the B.C. Securities Commission (BCSC), B.C. RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), Grace is one of the lucky ones.

In 2022, British Columbians reported combined losses of nearly $24 million in crypto scams, almost triple the $8.5 million reported the year before, according to CAFC data.

Canadians lost a “staggering” $530 million to fraud and cybercrime in 2022, a 40 per cent increase from 2021, said a news release, which added that only 5 to 10 per cent of victims report fraud.

“Scammers are using the popularity and complexity of crypto assets to target vulnerable investors, particularly on social media,” read a statement. “Recent BCSC research shows young adult investors in B.C. are more likely turn to social media for investing advice and information and that they are taking a more speculative and risky approach to investing, with 18 per cent holding only crypto investments.”

Investors can protect themselves by recognizing the following characteristics of a crypto scam:

Promises of “guaranteed” high returns on an investment: All investments have risk. Investors should question any investments that have a “guaranteed” return.

Complicated jargon and language that is difficult to understand: Scammers often exploit the mystique of complex new technologies, like blockchain or artificial intelligence, to project a veneer of expertise and authority.

Unregistered salesperson: Many investment frauds involve individual or firms that aren’t registered to buy or sell investments. Always check before investing.

Unsolicited offers: Be extremely cautious if you receive unsolicited communication over email, by phone, pop-up ads and videos on the internet, or direct messages on social media.

Pressure to buy: Scammers may try to create a false sense of urgency to take advantage of an investment “before it’s too late.” Take your time and research an investment opportunity, ask questions, and talk to a registered professional before making a decision.

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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