Langley RCMP are again warning the public to beware of phone scams. (Black Press Media files)

Langley RCMP are again warning the public to beware of phone scams. (Black Press Media files)

Bitcoin scammers get $20,000 from Langley victims in one month

At least five people fell victim to con artists impersonating police or bankers

Langley residents have lost almost $20,000 to Bitcoin scammers in the last month in five separate incidents, RCMP say.

Telephone frauds typically involve a phone call from someone impersonating the police, bank representatives, or government officials.

They engage in high-pressure tactics, claiming an emergency that requires the victim immediately pay up a significant sum.

One of the scams in Langley saw a victim calling and claiming to represent a bank, claiming there had been a fraud.

The caller invited the victim to participate in a sting operation against the fraudsters, said Cpl. Holly Largy. This required the victim to transfer $12,000 in Bitcoin, and to buy a large number of MasterCard gift cards. Bitcoin is a digital currency favoured by scammers because it can easily be transferred outside of the conventional financial system.

The victim in this case wised up before completing the transaction, and was able to retain the gift cards, said Largy. But the $12,000 in Bitcoin is gone.

Another victim was called by someone pretending to be a police officer, who said their social insurance number was compromised. They demanded the victim send $1,200 in Bitcoin to “correct” the program.

Tracking down such criminals can be extraordinarily difficult for local RCMP and city police forces, because the criminals can be operating from anywhere in the world.

“It’s very frustrating, because pretty much all we can do is educate,” said Largy.

Largy noted that any request for payment in Bitcoin via an unsolicited message should be a giant red flag. Under no circumstances should people send Bitcoin to someone who contacts them out of the blue.

Largy also noted that no police agency will call and demand money.

“These fraudsters are able to make it look like they care calling from a published police telephone number,” Largy said. “Neither do we take payment in Bitcoin.”

She urged people to tell others about these scams to get the word out.

In addition, people should trust their instincts, and know that if something sounds dodgy, it probably is, and should be given a wide berth.

When contacted by these scammers, call the Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200, Largy said.

READ ALSO: Ontario man charged in Langley fake gold scam

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