Burnaby senior loses $7.5 million in elaborate cryptocurrency scam, police say

A Burnaby, B.C., senior lost more than $7.5 million through an elaborate, long-term cryptocurrency scam, according to police.

Mounties say a woman contacted them in December saying she had been the victim of fraud. She told police she received a text written in Chinese last spring by someone asking about her personal business history. 

Over the span of several months, the fraudster worked to gain her trust, communicating with her by phone, text, email, and a chat app. 

The fraudster convinced the victim to invest millions in cryptocurrency using an online trading app.

The victim was able to check the balance of her investments through apps that mimicked legitimate cryptocurrency trading platforms.

She later found she was unable to withdraw money, and the person she was in contact with disappeared. 

The victim was then contacted by another person who offered to help her get her money back. 

“The victim, who was pressured and threatened throughout the course of the scam, invested more, but unfortunately, this was also a scam,” RCMP said. 

Burnaby RCMP say it is one of the largest personal scams the detachment has ever seen. 

Cpl. Philip Ho with Burnaby RCMP’s Economic Crime Unit said they are sharing details of the case in an effort to prevent other people from falling victim to similar scams.

“Fraudsters are often changing tactics,” Ho said in a statement. “In this case, it appears they were able to tailor the scam to target this victim in particular using information about her career and business history to first build trust and friendship.”

RCMP said they continue to investigate, and they are working with partners, such as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, to look into the “digital footprint” of the transaction.

The centre offers several tips on how to avoid falling prey to scams and fraud.