Cryptocurrency scams are on the rise in British Columbia, with reported losses soaring to nearly $24 million in 2022, according to a new report from the B.C. Securities Commission.
In 2022, the reported losses from crypto-related scams neared $24 million, almost triple what was reported the year before.
Experts say the numbers are likely much higher. According to a report from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) only 5 to 10 per cent of victims report fraud.
The BCSC says scammers are taking advantage of crypto’s surging popularity on social media and the complexity behind its use.
Currently, there are many ways to get involved in cryptocurrency, and every day several more sprout up. New coins, new methods, and with that — new scams.
Kurt Bedford, Acting Head for Organized Crime with the B.C. RCMP, says if promises of high returns on investment seem too good to be true, you’re probably right.
Disguised as typical internet content, the BCSC has rolled out a clever new ad campaign targeting the issue. At first, the ads might not seem so obvious — but give them a moment, and the harsh reality of what they’re saying comes to light.
“I’m going to show you how to 10x your crypto investments … for me,” says a spokesperson in one of the clips circulating various social media platforms.
Story continues below.
They all carry a similar theme: the scams are never this obvious.
On top of the ad campaign, their latest website is taking a similar approach to educating residents on what to look out for.
They say the main five things to watch out for are fake crypto websites, romance scams, ponzi schemes, crypto giveaways and pump and dumps.
However, there are things you can do to protect yourself, and the BCSC recommends the following:
- Promises of “guaranteed” high returns on an investment: All investments have risk. Investors should question any investments that have a “guaranteed” return.
- Complicated jargon and language that is difficult to understand: Scammers often exploit the mystique of complex new technologies, like blockchain or artificial intelligence, to project a veneer of expertise and authority.
- Unregistered salesperson: Many investment frauds involve individual or firms that aren’t registered to buy or sell investments. Always check AreTheyRegistered.ca before investing.
- Unsolicited offers: Be extremely cautious if you receive unsolicited communication over email, by phone, pop-up ads and videos on the internet, or direct messages on social media.
- Pressure to buy: Scammers may try to create a false sense of urgency to take advantage of an investment “before it’s too late.” Take your time and research an investment opportunity, ask questions, and talk to a registered professional before making a decision.
Ultimately, you can reduce your risk by trading crypto assets through trusted financial institutions. Make sure any platform you decide to use is registered with Canadian securities regulators and make sure to avoid platforms that are banned.
If you’ve been scammed, or know of any fraud or cybercrime taking place — report it to the CAFC using their online system.