‘Crypto craze’ among scams that cost Canadians $308 million, Mississauga and Brampton residents warned

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Published March 7, 2023 at 9:19 am

Mississauga, Brampton residents urged to beware of cryptocurrency crooks

People in Mississauga, Brampton and across Canada are being scammed out of “record-breaking dollar amounts” by cryptocurrency frauds, and law enforcement both on the local front and in Ottawa want to put an end to it.

The latest warning about the so-called “crypto craze” comes from the Canadian government’s Competition Bureau, which issued an alert to the public this week.

In its warning, the bureau notes that Canadians reported $308.6 million in investment fraud losses in 2022, up dramatically from $164 million the previous year, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).

Of those reports, many involved Canadians investing in cryptocurrency after seeing a deceptive ad, the federal agency says.

Peel Regional Police are among local law enforcement agencies that have picked up on the warning from the feds, retweeting the alert from Ottawa on their social media.

“Are you looking to invest? Thinking about cashing in on the crypto craze? Think twice. It’s possible that the promise of a way to make quick, easy money is just an easy way to separate you from your money,” the federal government warning reads.

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According to the Competition Bureau, investment fraud, including cryptocurrency fraud, takes many forms, but they all have one thing in common: “the big lie that you can make tons of fast cash,” the feds say.

“Crypto scammers use various tools to entrap you. They create a false sense of urgency and capitalize on your fear of missing out on the next big thing,” agency officials say. “They use fake websites that feature phony reviews and endorsements from celebrities and regulators, even fake videos, all to make the investment look legitimate.

“They reach you through the usual channels, like deceptive ads on social media, apps and websites, or through phone calls, emails and text messages. And they make the same false promise–a huge return on investment.”

What makes crypto scams unusual, the bureau says, is the complexity of digital finance and currency. Many Canadians don’t fully understand cryptocurrency beyond knowing that it’s a newer form of payment.

Scammers know that, officials say, and they use that lack of knowledge to deceive people.

“Cryptocurrency is a hot topic, and many want in on the action. No one is immune and anyone, including businesses, can be a victim,” authorities say.

Some tips to avoid crypto investment fraud:

  • don’t act quickly. Think about the offer before acting. Fraudsters often use high-pressure tactics to get consumers to hand their money over quickly
  • be wary of “too-good-to-be-true” investment offers from friends, family, social media or dating website users, including new love interests
  • be skeptical when someone insists that you don’t discuss the investment opportunity with others
  • be aware that once a cryptocurrency transaction is completed, it cannot be reversed
  • don’t fall for claims that cryptocurrency investments are backed by the Bank of Canada or other regulators, or that cryptocurrency is legal tender. This isn’t true

If you believe you have been misled or think you’ve seen a cryptocurrency investment fraud, report it to the Competition Bureau.

Meanwhile, Peel police have been alerting Mississauga and Brampton residents to various scams as Canadian Fraud Prevention Month continues.

Their latest warning seeks to raise public awareness surrounding Ponzi schemes and pyramid scams that try to lure people into illegal investment webs that promise quick return on financial investment.

Such scams, which invite money/investments up front with promises of a relatively fast and huge payoff, have been around for many decades because, simply stated, they work.

“In a Ponzi or pyramid scam, an investor buys into a scheme offering higher-than-normal returns. The scammer then pays early investors with money from new investors. Investors believe their investment returns high profits, but the scheme will eventually collapse,” Peel cops posted to Twitter earlier this week.

Peel police also sounded the warning bells to another scam late last week.

Fraudsters seeking to trick people out of their money will tell would-be victims over the phone that a loved one is in jail or that they’re being targeted for not paying taxes.

Such “emergency scams” are among a number of popular frauds targeting people these days in Mississauga, Brampton and across Ontario, and Canada, police warn.

According to the CAFC, Canadians lost more than $530 million to fraud in 2022 and much of that could have been prevented if victims were more informed of the tactics used by scammers.

For more information on the various frauds/scams, visit Peel Regional Police or Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre websites.

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