Calgary, AB,

Police urge caution against cryptocurrency scams

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and with 77 reported cases of cryptocurrency related investment scams costing Calgarians $4.8 million this year, Calgary police are helping citizens spot the red flags of cyber scams.

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.

Victims are typically targeted through ads on social media platforms. In some cases, the victims believe they are communicating with a known friend or associate who encourages them to invest. They are then put into contact with a scammer posing as an “Advisor” who counsels them on how to set up a cryptocurrency account through a legitimate website. The victim then transfers money into what they believe to be their own ‘investment’ accounts that are provided by the “Advisor,” with the money then being pocketed by the scammer as the ‘investment’ accounts provided are actually those of the scammer. Once the scammer receives funds from the unsuspecting victim, they encourage the victim to continue investing until the victim realizes it’s a scam.

“We are now in the second week of Cyber Awareness Month and our hope is to help educate citizens about both the legitimate and fraudulent sides of cryptocurrency,” says Staff Sergeant Graeme Smiley of the Calgary Police Service Cyber Forensics Unit. “It’s important for citizens to know cryptocurrency can be used legitimately and there are institutions to help people use it safely. Unfortunately, it is also used by scammers as a way to obtain funds quickly.”

The Calgary Police Service reminds citizens that:

  • Only scammers will demand payment in cryptocurrency. Legitimate businesses, organizations and government agencies will not demand payment in cryptocurrency, especially in advance. 
  • 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.

The Calgary Police Service encourages anyone who has suffered a financial loss as a result of fraud 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