Calgary, AB,

Calgarians lose millions in cryptocurrency scams

With Calgarians losing more than $22.5 million in 340 reported cryptocurrency scams so far this year, we are educating citizens about the red flags of these scams during the third week of Cyber Security Awareness Month.

In 2022, Calgarians lost approximately $14 million in 321 reported cryptocurrency scams. Despite these staggering losses, cryptocurrency scams are believed to be vastly underreported.

While the vast majority of cryptocurrency is legitimate, it is also a deregulated marketplace and has, at times, been used by scammers as a form of payment connected to various frauds.

The most common scams are investment scams that promise a large return on funds, convincing victims to keep sending more, employment opportunities, romance scams, and scammers posing as financial institutions or government agencies threatening a consequence or penalty if money is not paid.

“It is important for citizens to know that while cryptocurrency can be used legitimately, fraudsters often lure victims with promises of a quick way to make money,” says Staff Sergeant Graeme Smiley of the Calgary Police Service Cyber Forensics Unit. “During Cyber Security Awareness Month, our goal is to help citizens spot the signs of a potential scam. For those who have fallen victim to a cryptocurrency fraud, we now have the Blockchain Investigative Team who are dedicated to investigating these types of scams.”

 The Calgary Police Service reminds citizens:

  • Only scammers will demand full payment upfront. Legitimate businesses, organizations and government agencies will not demand payment in advance, especially in cryptocurrency, over the phone, or use threats if payment is not received. If something seems suspicious, report it to local law enforcement. 

  • Only scammers will guarantee profits or big returns. Beware of people who promise or guarantee you can quickly and easily make money in the crypto markets with minimal effort. 

  • Beware of social media friend requests or online dating apps that mention cryptocurrency investments. If you receive an unsolicited message from someone on an app or a dating site, and they want to show you how to invest in crypto, or ask you to send them crypto, it is likely a scam. If the request appears to be from someone you already know, reach out to them directly and confirm the request came from them. 

  • A crypto investment promise can be a disguise for an account takeoverFor businesses, most individuals do not need access to all data on a network and do not need administrative privileges. Only give permissions and access to individuals that is required for their function. Limit administrative privileges to those who are required to manage the network.

The Calgary Police Service encourages anyone who has suffered a financial loss as a result of fraud or extortion to report it to police by calling the non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

If you have received a fraudulent text message, email or phone call but have not sustained a financial loss, please report it to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:

TALK: 1-800-222-8477
APP: P3 Tips