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Ontario Resident Loses $50,000 in Crypto ATM Scam

2 mins
Updated by Michael Washburn
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In Brief

  • An Ontario resident has fallen victim to a scam where callers pretended to be the authorities.
  • The bad actors convinced the victim to convert money to crypto and send it via a Bitcoin ATM.
  • The scam cost the victim some $50,000, but even this amount is far from the worst recent such loss.
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Some crypto scams stand out for the audacity of the scammers and the sheer amount of money they steal. Police in Canada on Monday announced that an Ontario resident fell victim to a costly swindle.

According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), a resident of Renfrew County lost $50,000 to scammers. Their modus operandi was to impersonate various government agencies as well as the police themselves.

Ontario Police Raise Alarm About Crypto Scams

A CityNews Ottawa report states that the unnamed victim approached the police with an account of having received “multiple spoofed phone calls.” The callers claimed to be reaching out on behalf of federal agencies and the police. They told the victim of a problem requiring the victim to convert money to Bitcoin and send it to them using a Bitcoin ATM.

The CityNews report does not specify the exact pretext that the bad actors put to use in this case. But it warns people to be wary of calls where the caller claims some kind of problem with your Social Insurance Number (SIN). Or, alternatively, an intercepted package addressed to you.

In these instances, it is a grave mistake to convert funds and send them to the putative authorities via a Bitcoin ATM, as the victim here did. Or, indeed, to provide any payment in any form to unknown parties claiming over the phone to be law enforcement.

A government agency will never call someone to tell him or her about the hacking of a SIN, the report cautions.

Ontario and the rest of Canada need sophisticated financial strategies to alleviate its debt, but crypto scammers have found a racket bilking unwary retail investors. Source: Statista

How Bad Is the Fraud Crisis in Canada?

The Renfrew County victim may have lost a bulk of his or her life savings. But even this is far from the costliest recent scam targeting a Canadian resident.

In April, it emerged that a British Columbia resident had lost more than $7.5 million.

The amount may set it apart from other instances of fraud, but the modus operandi was all too familiar. In a typical pig butchering scam, the bad actor gained the victim’s trust over time. And then encouraged the victim to trade crypto through a bogus app.

The victim then found she was unable to withdraw her investment. Another bad actor offered to help her get around the red tape problem, only to take more of her money. She had become one of the British Columbia residents who have lost fortunes in crypto scams.

The problem is not getting any better or helping digital currency’s image in Canada. According to official figures, losses to this sort of swindle reached $24 million in Canada in 2022.

Learn more about crypto’s ongoing struggle for mainstream adoption in Canada.

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Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn is a New York-based managing editor who joined BeInCrypto in March 2023. Over his career, he written extensively about the corporate legal world and the intersection of finance and law, has produced thousands of articles and features, and has mentored many reporters and researchers finding their way in a fast-changing industry.