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Nearly $24 million lost to crypto scams in B.C. in 2022

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says only five to 10 per cent of victims report fraud.

The RCMP is warning British Columbians to be on the lookout for crypto scams, after nearly $24 million was lost to these types of scams in the province in 2022.

While British Columbians reported $8.5 million lost to crypto scams in 2021, this number nearly tripled in 2022. And the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says only five to 10 per cent of victims report fraud.

In a press release issued Wednesday morning, the B.C. Securities Commission, B.C. RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warned the public of these growing scams, which they say use the “popularity and complexity of crypto assets to target vulnerable investors.”

“Recent BCSC research shows young adult investors in B.C. are more likely turn to social media for investing advice and information and that they are taking a more speculative and risky approach to investing, with 18 per cent holding only crypto investments,” the joint press release states.

The RCMP says the following are characteristics of possible crypto scams:

  • 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 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.

“If promises of high returns on an investment seem too good to be true, you’re probably right,” says Kurt Bedford of the BC RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Operations and Financial Integrity unit.

“Although our dedicated investigators at the BC RCMP Financial Integrity unit work hard to solve some of the most complex financial crime related offences, investor education and prevention still remain the first line of defence against becoming victims of investment fraud.”