Provincial Police are warning local residents of fraudsters posing as government officials demanding bitcoin.
OPP say a senior citizen has lost a significant amount of money after someone claimed she was under investigation for identity theft.
The scam began with a series of phone calls with the fraudsters claiming they were representatives of the courthouse and needed money transferred from the victim’s bank accounts as part of the probe.
They claimed someone had used her Social Insurance Number to open bank accounts in her name and asked that she put a verification number into Google and called repeatedly until the individual drove to a different community to deposit money into a bitcoin machine.
Police say harassing phone calls continued, and the victim was urged to travel outside of the community again to deposit more money.
She declined but made a second deposit in Kenora before calling police to report the incident.
Here is what has been happening and what you should be aware of:
The victim receives a phone call from someone pretending to work for a banking institution or government agency. Government agencies do not use bitcoin machines
· The scammer tells you that your bank accounts are at risk, or you are being investigated and money needs to be secured in a Bitcoin account
They provide an address for you to deposit funds into a bitcoin machine
· The fraudster requests you attend your banking institution to withdraw funds
· After doing so, they request you to purchase prepaid gift cards and asking you to provide the gift card numbers, or deposit the funds into a bitcoin machine
· Often times, there will be a request not to tell anyone, to keep it a secret to avoid further trouble
How to protect yourself:
If something doesn’t seem right hang up
· Call your local police service and meet with an officer
· Make a follow up call to the actual banking institution or government agency to confirm information, first doing research to confirm you are calling the right number since Caller IDs can be fake.
For more information regarding ongoing scams in Canada or to report fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, call OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).