The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has revealed that cryptocurrency scams in the last week alone have cost local residents $2 million.
The agency said that the number of cryptocurrency scams has tripled over the same period last year, noting that scammers promote “get-rich-quick” schemes on social media.
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Vancouver police warned federal agencies that digital assets are increasingly being used by organized crime to launder money. More specifically, they have called Bitcoin ATMs “an ideal money-laundering vehicle” that take advantage of the anonymity related to digital currencies.
Tania Visintin, a media spokesperson with the VPD, said investigators think this type of crime is being under-reported because the victims often feel shame or embarrassment, making them reluctant to come forward.
“Predators will often exploit two powerful human emotions – greed and love. 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 added.
Crypto Mania Catches Regulators’ Eyes
Cryptocurrencies eye-popping rise of more than 1000% over the past year has captured the attention of the public and institutional investors alike. Additionally, the mania has attracted the watchful eyes of financial regulators across the world, including in Canada.
Most recently, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) has put the phenomenon of the crypto craze at the top of their investment scams list.
The group of US States and Canadian provincial regulators highlighted that cryptocurrencies and related financial products may be nothing more than “public facing fronts for Ponzi schemes and other frauds.” As such, it advises investors to screen themselves from crypto promotions that fail to offer clear disclosures of their risks and costs.
In a new twist on online investment fraud, NASAA was concerned that scammers have immediate access to potential victims through their online profiles, which may contain sensitive personal information. As such, con artists can easily lure people and promote fraudulent investment products using a highly targeted pitch.