BURNABY RCMP on Thursday issued a public warning after a recent scam that defrauded a Burnaby senior out of more than $7.5 million dollars, in one of the largest personal scams the detachment has ever investigated.
In December 2022, Burnaby RCMP was contacted by a woman who said she had been scammed out of a significant amount of money after an elaborate fraud.
The victim told police she had received a Mandarin language text message in the spring of 2022 by a person who reached out for information related to the victim’s personal business history.
The scam escalated over the course of several months. The fraudster created a friendly relationship with the victim, with the two speaking frequently in Mandarin by phone, text, email, and over a chat app.
After gaining the victim’s trust, the fraudster then convinced the victim to invest millions of dollars through several transactions into a cryptocurrency wallet through an online trading app.
While the victim was later able to check the balance of her investments online, it appears this was done through spoofed apps mirroring the look of legitimate cryptocurrency trading platforms.
Download links to these apps were sent directly from the fraudsters to the victim.
When the victim later tried to withdraw money, she was not able to. The person she was communicating with disappeared.
The victim was then contacted by someone using a different name who told the victim he could help her get her money back. The victim, who was pressured and threatened throughout the course of the scam, invested more, but unfortunately, this was also a scam.
“We are sharing this story to protect other people from falling victim to similar scams. Fraudsters are often changing tactics. In this case it appears they were able to tailor the scam to target this victim in particular using information about her career and business history to first build trust and friendship,” said Cpl. Philip Ho with Burnaby RCMP’s Economic Crime Unit.
“These scammers went to great lengths over many months to defraud this senior and convince her these were legitimate investments,” Ho added. “These types of frauds often go unreported, but it’s important that victims come forward to police so we can investigate and help support victims, who are at a higher risk of being re-victimized once they have been defrauded by a scam.”
Burnaby RCMP would like the public to be aware of warning signs that are commonly seen in cryptocurrency frauds:
- An unusual high return of investments in a short amount of a time
- Suspects messaging victims at all times of the day taking interest in their personal life
- Suspects providing victims with excuses to use when going to the bank to withdraw money
- No formal investment contract or information relating to the product you will be purchasing
The investigation into the fraud is ongoing.
Investigators with Burnaby’s Economic Crime Unit are working with partners, including the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and are looking into the digital footprint of the transactions as part of the investigation.
For additional tips on staying safe from online fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.