Coquitlam RCMP are warning the public about a new phone scam that’s making the rounds in which fraudsters demand payment in bitcoin.
Callers posing as workers with Revenue Canada or the Immigration and Refugee Board have been threatening people with deportation or arrest for unpaid taxes unless a sum of money is paid immediately in the digital cryptocurrency.
Cpl Michael McLaughlin says victims don’t have to be sophisticated in the use of bitcoin to fall for the scam.
“What the criminals will do is instruct people on how to use a bitcoin machine, and they’ll phone back repeatedly using these high-pressure tactics,” said McLaughlin.
“One of the problems with bitcoin is that it’s virtually untraceable — that’s the whole reason it was set up. Unfortunately, it’s become popular for criminals who launder money and with criminals who do frauds and scams,” he said.
“Once you’ve made a payment in bitcoin, you’re never getting it back.”
Bitcoin is a relatively new type of digital currency which is not controlled by any government or centrally processed by any bank or company.
It has seen increases of over 2,000 per cent in the last year, with values spiking and falling in recent weeks. At one point Wednesday, a single bitcoin was worth over $25,000 Cdn.
McLaughlin says new Canadians and older people are most vulnerable to the scam because of their circumstances and a lack of understanding of bitcoin.
“We’ve had it where somebody sent money not even knowing that they sent bitcoin money. So, it’s important that everyone is aware these frauds are happening,” he said.
Read the full story over at the CBC.