A Burnaby senior was defrauded millions of dollars in one of the largest personal cryptocurrency scams the local RCMP detachment has ever investigated.
The woman reached out to police in December 2022 after being scammed out of $7.5 million in the elaborate fraud.
Police say the scam escalated over several months, where the fraudster created a friendly relationship with the victim. The scammer first reached out via a text message in Mandarin in the spring of 2022, asking for information about the victim’s personal business history.
In the months to follow, the fraudster and victim began speaking frequently on the phone, over text, email, and a chat app.
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After gaining trust, the fraudster convinced the woman to invest millions of dollars into a cryptocurrency wallet through an online trading app.
But when the Burnaby woman checked her balances online, police say the money was taken through a spoofed app that mirrored the look of legitimate cryptocurrency trading platforms.
When the woman tried to withdraw her money she couldn’t, and the person she had been communicating with disappeared.
After that, the victim was contacted by someone using a different name who told her he could help get her money back. The victim was pressured and threatened throughout the course of the scam, and invested more with this second person. But that was also a scam.
Cpl. Philip Ho with the Burnaby RCMP said the force is sharing the woman’s story to prevent other people from falling victim to similar scams — and make the public aware that fraudsters can target a particular victim using information about their career or business history.
“These scammers went to great lengths over many months to defraud this senior and convince her these were legitimate investments,” Cpl. Ho said. “These types of frauds often go unreported, but it’s important that victims come forward to police so we can investigate and help support victims, who are at a higher risk of being re-victimized once they have been defrauded by a scam.”
Some tip-offs in cryptocurrency scams to look out for include an unusually high return on investments in a short time, a suspect messaging a victim at all times of day and taking interest in their personal life, no formal investment contract, and suspects giving the victim excuses to use when going to the bank to withdraw money.
Police haven’t made any arrests in the Burnaby woman’s case yet, but continue to investigate along with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.