Police are sounding the alarm due to the increase of cases of Bitcoin fraud lately, more so that recovering any money or tracking it down is nearly impossible because cash becomes untraceable when it is converted into the cryptocurrency.
A Huge Scam
Police shared that dozens of individuals have fallen victim to a Bitcoin scam that is currently rampaging in the York Region. About $340,000 have been scammed from victims according to estimates.
Bitcoin ATMs are used for the scam. The machines are being used in a new CRA scam which instructs victims to convert their cash to Bitcoins.
How it Happens
The CRA-Bitcoin scam is done by perpetrators posing as police officers or tax collectors who contact a targeted victim over tax issues. The victims are threatened with a possible arrest if they do not cooperate. They are then told to use ATMs to convert their cash to Bitcoins, a decentralized digital cryptocurrency which is used for trading.
Police shared that about 45 victims in the York Region have been identified since April 2017. One victim, who goes by the name Linda, said in a recent press conference that the fraudsters are very convincing.
Linda stated that the scammers called her cellphone to inform her that she is under investigation for tax fraud and that she will be arrested if she did not address the matter immediately. She further shared that the scammers told her that there is a warrant for her arrest and that she’ll get a call from the York Regional Police.
Linda also said that although she initially thought that the call was fraudulent, she eventually believed them because the fraudsters knew some of her personal information plus she got a call from a number that registered as ‘York Regional Police’ on her phone.
Due to the above, Linda was persuaded to withdraw $12,000 from her bank account and deposited the amount to a Bitcoin ATM in Richmond Hill. The machine took her money, converted it to Bitcoin, and sent the currency to the fraudster.
Linda knew nothing of Bitcoin before the fraud and thought the machine was just something the Revenue Canada used to transfer money quickly. She realized right after that falling for the scam was an expensive mistake.
Impossible to Track
It should be noted that although Bitcoin ATMs are legitimate, the very nature of the cryptocurrency means that tracking money converted into it is practically impossible.
Police said that there is really nothing they can do to trace the money and that the only way to get it back is for the person who received it to send it back. They further shared that the scam is likely pulled off by an overseas organized crime group.
Prevention of Future Bitcoin Scams
Public awareness is hailed by the police to be the only proven way so far to prevent people from falling victim to a Bitcoin scam. They’ve since placed flyers near ATMs informing the public that government agencies do not accept Bitcoins as payment.