Calgary

Lethbridge bitcoin scam costs victim $11,000

Police in Lethbridge are warning people about a telephone scam involving bitcoin accounts that saw one victim hoodwinked out of $11,000.

Fraudster told man he was under investigation and must transfer money

Police say an unknown caller told the victim he was under investigation for money laundering but he could be cleared if he deposited his savings into a cryptocurrency account using a bitcoin ATM at the north end of the city. (Kin Cheung/The Canadian Press)

Police in Lethbridge are warning people about a telephone scam involving bitcoin accounts that saw one victim hoodwinked out of $11,000.

A 24-year-old man told police he was defrauded out of the money on June 2 after he received a phone call from an unknown number and the caller told him he was under investigation for money laundering, police say in a release.

Police say the caller told the victim to take money out of his account and deposit it into a bitcoin account using a bitcoin ATM at the north end of the city.

He was told that police officers would meet with him in a few days and give him a cheque for the full amount — if it was proven he was not involved in any illegal activity.

While the victim was at the bitcoin machine, he noticed several people in line, talking on their phones. 

After he made his deposit, Brinks employees arrived, and hearing the conversations of the people in line, told them they should all hang up because they were being scammed.

Police say people should be wary of phone calls from anyone claiming to represent law enforcement, the Canada Revenue Agency or other government agencies claiming the individual is under investigation or owes money — especially those demanding payment in the form of bitcoin transfer, gift cards, prepaid credit cards and wire transfers.

These tactics are not used by police or for tax collection purposes.

"Do not provide any personal information or funds and do not return calls to any number the caller provides," police said.

"To confirm the legitimacy of a call, contact the agency the caller claims to represent directly."

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