Canadian investors residing in Calgary, Alberta, have fallen victim to crypto scams. This has resulted in a substantial loss of $22.5 million within the current year. The surge in fraudulent activities has prompted provincial officials to issue a specific warning to residents. They were urged to exercise caution when dealing with employment scams, romance scams, and other deceptive practices associated with digital currencies. This article will delve into the concerning uptick in crypto scams in Canada. It will also provide insights on how investors can protect themselves in this age of digital finance.
The Escalation of Crypto Scams
Reports originating from Alberta have unveiled a significant increase in crypto scams, with 340 cases reported since the year’s commencement. This represents a notable surge from the previous year, 2022. During this period, residents reported losses of $14 million across 321 scams over a span of 12 months. It’s crucial to acknowledge that authorities believe these figures merely scratch the surface. This is because many victims may refrain from reporting their financial losses.
The police department in Calgary has been diligent in addressing this issue. They emphasize that although crypto serves legitimate purposes, its unregulated nature has made it an attractive tool for scammers engaged in a variety of fraudulent activities.
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Common Scam Categories
One of the most prevalent forms of crypto-related fraud involves investment scams. Scammers promise victims substantial returns, contingent upon an initial financial contribution. Law enforcement agencies stress that legitimate investments do not demand full upfront payments, highlighting such requests as a warning sign.
For example, the well-known Michael Saylor phishing videos feature fraudsters posing as the Bitcoin billionaire, pledging to double the Bitcoin holdings of victims in exchange for transferring their BTC to the scammer’s wallet. In January 2022, an individual was duped into sending $1.1 million in BTC to a scam address as part of this scheme.
The police have also issued cautions against individuals offering unrealistic returns within the crypto markets. This is along with individuals on social media and dating apps who mention crypto investments, which often serve as indicators of potential scams.
Crypto Scams in a Broader Context
According to Chainalysis, crypto scams constitute a substantial portion of crypto-related crimes. This encompasses activities like hacks, darknet markets, and ransomware attacks. However, their mid-year update for 2023 indicates a decrease in global crypto-related crime, a trend not mirrored in Calgary.
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A survey conducted by Toronto Metropolitan University in June found that one-third of digital asset owners in Canada have fallen prey to crypto scams. In addition to scams, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] issued a warning in July regarding instances of Canadians having their crypto stolen directly from their homes by individuals masquerading as delivery personnel or figures of authority.