Due to an uptick in Bitcoin scams, Canadian police have launched a public awareness campaign to educate potential victims of the danger.
In Regina, the police have reported that an increasing number of people are getting scammed — even though many don’t know what cryptocurrency is. According to a CBC report, the government has responded by trying to get the message out to the public through media releases and social media. A poster campaign is said to be the next step.
The primary goal is to remind people that the government will never demand payment in cryptocurrency. Toronto police ran a similar campaign earlier this year:
Per CBC, scammers are spoofing their calls to make it look as though they are calling from a local police service or government agency. Then, over the phone, the scammers will tell the victim, often an elderly person, that they are from a government agency and that their SIN number has been compromised or that they owe taxes. The specifics vary, but the endgame is always the same, direct the victim to a Bitcoin ATM and extort money from them.
Similar schemes have been reported in Winnipeg, where back in June, a store owner decided to take matters into his own hands, placing a large sign on the Bitcoin ATM warning customers of phone scams involving cryptocurrency.
There have been many high profile Bitcoin scams in Canada in recent years. In 2017, fraudsters posing as tax collectors succeeded in convincing people to send in over $340,000 in Bitcoin.
Authorities in the U.S. have issued similar warnings — like in August when California’s attorney general office published a list of the most common digital currency scams.