Canadians swindled out of $1.7M via cryptocurrency scams this year to date

TORONTO — Canadians have been swindled out of than $1.7 million via scams involving cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin so far this year — more than double the amount during all of 2016.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says that’s more than five times the amount people lost to these types of scams in 2015, which was roughly $284,000.

As bitcoin becomes more popular with investors, sending the price above US$17,000 mark last week, criminals appear to be increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies to extort payment from their victims as well.

These new figures come after police in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario warned in recent months to beware of scams involving demands for a transfer of funds using bitcoin.

RCMP in Langley, B.C., last month said a woman received a call from what she believed was her husband’s cellphone and someone posing as a police officer, asking for bail to secure her spouse’s release.

Police said the woman followed the caller’s instructions and paid them $5,000 in bitcoin, before receiving a call from her husband who was sitting at home and never arrested in the first place.

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