The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is issuing a warning to the public after nine residents were scammed into sending a total of $68,000 through bitcoin to criminals pretending to work for official institutions.
Sgt. Judy Bird said the scams occurred over the past four months and have seen fraudsters posing as representatives from police agencies, the Canada Revenue Agency, the social insurance office and immigration.
The scammers often threaten victims with arrest if they don’t make a payment for a supposed infraction.
“Many citizens who are victimized are either embarrassed, or actually believe that they are in trouble, so they don’t question the transaction,” Bird said.
She said, in previous years, fraudsters demanded iTunes cards, but they are now demanding that victims make payment using bitcoin.
Bird said these types of frauds are difficult to investigate because bitcoin transactions are unregulated, untraceable and accessible worldwide.
She said the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.
Bird suggested that people remain vigilant and not respond to callers threatening arrest.
“The people who are calling are criminals attempting to extort money from you,” she said.
For more information or to report fraud, visit fightspam.gc.ca.