British Columbia

Nearly $2 million stolen in one week through cryptocurrency scams, say Vancouver police

The scammers often prey on those looking for love or hoping to make quick money, said the Vancouver Police Department.  

VPD warns scammers exploit powerful human emotions to separate victims from their money

Vancouver police are warning anyone looking for love or money online to be on alert for cryptocurrency scams, after locals lost nearly $2 million in under a week. (CBC)

Vancouver police are warning the public to be on alert for cryptocurrency scams after victims reported losing nearly $2 million over a single week.

In a statement Friday, Const. Tania Visintin said the scammers often prey on those looking for love or those hoping to make quick money. 

"Predators will often exploit two powerful human emotions — greed and love," Visintin said. "Victims are typically lured in with the idea that they will be a part of an opportunity to make money or in other cases, they will be doing a friend or romantic interest a favour."

She warned there are two types of scams to watch out for, both ending with the victim losing large amounts of money.

Romance scammers groom their victims over time on social media channels or dating sites, indicating they have a romantic interest in the victim, according to the statement. They then convince their target to invest in cryptocurrency, at which point they steal the victim's money. 

Investor scammers target victims who are hoping for fast returns on investments. When the victim tries to withdraw their money, they are unable to do so. That's when the suspect ends all communication and disappears, the statement said. 

Police say these types of frauds are very difficult to investigate and the chances of locating and identifying a suspect are low, as suspects are often based overseas.

And investigators say the crimes often go unreported.

"Victims often feel shame or embarrassment, making them reluctant to come forward to police," Visintin said.

Anyone who has noticed anything suspicious about personal money transfers to someone they met online is asked to call their local police department.