OPP warns of cryptocurrency romance scams

Provincial police are warning that fraudsters are out in force on and around Valentine’s Day, looking for victims.

Police say one of the most common scams used are crypto romance frauds. In 2023, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) said Ontario victims lost more than $111-million to investment frauds and $21-million to romance frauds in 2023.

The way it works it that scammers contact potential victims on social media platforms or dating applications and attempts to start a romantic relationship. After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammer pitches a cryptocurrency. They often claim to be successful investors and offer the victim help to make money, say police.

Victims are told to buy cryptocurrency from a legitimate website and transfer it to the scammer.

Sometimes, the scammer will let the victim take out a bit of their “investment”, hoping to bait them into investing more, say police.

Victims usually don’t find out they were scammed until they try to take out their funds and can’t.

To help protect yourself, the OPP has the following tips to not fall victim to these scams:

  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you do not know.
  • Never send money to someone you haven’t met.
  • Don’t give out your personal information (name, address, date of birth, SIN, or banking credentials).
  • Don’t allow remote access to any of your devices.
  • Be careful when sending cryptocurrency; once the transaction is completed, it is unlikely to be reversed.
  • Verify if the investment company are registered with the Provincial Securities Agency or the National Registration Search Tool.

Police say if you’re a victim of fraud, or know someone who has, call Ottawa police at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300 and report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 even if you didn’t lose any money.

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