Richmond resident loses $10,000 in Bitcoin during kidnapping scam

Jul 19 2018, 1:24 am

Police in Richmond are warning the public to be aware of a recent situation involving crypto-currency in the city, after a person paid $10,000 in Bitcoin to scammers who claimed the victim’s partner had been abducted and the payment was required for ransom.

Just before 7 pm on July 16, police responded to a residence in the 5000 block of Dover Crescent for a report of an abduction.

“Suspect or suspects were allegedly able to “spoof” a cell phone caller ID and contact the victim demanding payment for safe return of their partner,” said Richmond RCMP Cpl. Dennis Hwang. “The victim took the threat seriously as the originating call appeared to have come from their partner’s cell phone.”

Funds in excess of $10,000 were alleged transferred to a Bitcoin ATM machine located at a coffee shop in the 5900 block of No. 3 Road, before the victim recognized that they were being scammed. The victim’s partner was located unharmed and unaware of their supposed abduction.

“Richmond RCMP is warning the public that criminals are trending towards more sophisticated techniques in their activities and how they are able to gather personal information from their victims,” said Hwang.

This, he said, “includes sophisticated phishing exploits via computer to conventional methods such posing as company employee by phone to obtain cell phone numbers or other personal data.”

Hwang said that in light of this recent incident, police are also reminding people that the currencies most widely demanded forms of payment related to scams are:

  • iTunes gift cards
  • Steam (gaming) gift cards
  • Bitcoin

If any of these types of payment are being demanded, the alarm bells should be going immediately,” said Hwang. “Please exercise caution whenever anyone demands personal information from you. Abductions are extremely serious offences that the police do not take lightly.”

The Richmond RCMP General Investigation Section is actively investigating this incident, he added.

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