Businesses have been falling victim to the Head Office Bitcoin scam, says Alberta RCMP.
Police said over the past several months, fraudsters have been targeting businesses throughout Alberta in a sophisticated scam to receive Bitcoin currency, defrauding both employees and businesses out of thousands of dollars.
The scam starts with staff receiving a call from a person claiming to be a regional or district manager.
In many cases the fraudster has researched the names of staff and managers, along with detailed information about the operations of the businesses, including the names and roles of various staff persons and store policies.
Staff are told that an important shipment is imminent and receiving it is vital. Then they are advised of a problem with the payment for the shipment and the only way to not delay it is an immediate payment in bitcoin.
A second caller claiming to be an employee of the shipping company then calls to confirm the shipment and provide a tracking number and advises that payment is required before delivery.
Some employees took money from the store to the bitcoin ATM, and others have also taken funds from the store, and from their own personal account, to the bitcoin ATM to make the payment.
The first caller would stay on the line with each employee until the bitcoin transaction was finished. It was only after completing the transaction that employees realized they had fallen victim to professional fraudsters.
Alberta RCMP encourage businesses to protect themselves by providing in-house fraud awareness training and sharing warnings like this alert with their staff. Put in place clear, two-step approval processes, using a code word or ID number for financial transactions, and empower employees to say “no” to potential frauds.
Anyone who has fallen victim to this financial scam, or others, should contact their local police service for assistance. For those who have experienced a similar fraud attempt, but did not lose any money, report it to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre.