Bitcoin is rising, and so are the scams related to it.
Recently in the Canadian region of York, a lady named Linda (surname withheld) lost $12,000 in a scam at a Bitcoin ATM, according to CBC News.
She received a phone call from a person claiming to be a Canada Revenue Agency representative. This fake representative told Linda that she was being charged with tax fraud, and that there was an outstanding arrest warrant against her name. This news made her panic.
Linda said: ”I felt scared, vulnerable, and embarrassed.”
The caller also had all her details, including her full name and address, and was very persuasive. But Linda was still doubtful, as she had paid her taxes.
But soon she received another phone call from a person claiming to be a local police officer.
She told reporters: “They hung up, and then I received another call showing ‘York Regional Police’ on the number.”
The scammers spoofed the York Regional Police phone number by using software which alters phone numbers on the caller ID.
This second person managed to fool her by providing a fake name and badge number. He told her that she would be arrested if she does not clear her outstanding taxes as soon as possible. She was instructed to deposit the money in a Bitcoin ATM and also was told not to disclose any information about their discussion to anyone.
She withdrew $12,000 from a bank and deposited the amount in a Bitcoin ATM at a place called Hasty Market. She was also asked to send the transaction receipt by email.
In a statement, the York Regional Police said that dozens of residents are being scammed like this, and $340,000 have been paid into Bitcoin ATMs.
They also said that lately these scammers have been posing as Canada Revenue agents and threatening the victims with arrest.
Since April, 45 residents of the York region have fallen for the scam.
Bitcoin ATMs are legal in Canada, but due to the anonymous nature of the digital currency, it is almost impossible to track these transactions.
Detective Constable Rob Vingerhoets of the York Police Department said: “There really isn’t anything at this point, it’s a one-way street. The only way to recover it would be for the person who received the Bitcoin to send them back. If they’re a criminal, they’re not likely to do that.”
As a preventive measure, the police are trying to raise awareness by placing flyers near the ATMs and advertising that Bitcoins are not used in any tax-related transactions.