EPS warns of cryptocurrency investment scams on dating platforms

Police said it’s a massive increase compared to 21 occurrences in 2021 with a loss of $270,000 and 2019 where just four incidents were reported with a loss of $84,000

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Some Edmontonians looking for love last year are collectively down more than $5 million after being victimized by cryptocurrency investment scams, police said.

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The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is warning residents of cryptocurrency investment scams due to the crime’s rapid rise in the city.

In 2021, the EPS’ Cyber Crime Investigations Unit identified 87 cryptocurrency investment complaints with a monetary loss of over $5.29 million. Police said it’s a massive increase compared to 21 occurrences in 2021 with a loss of $270,000 and 2019 where just four incidents were reported with a loss of $84,000.

An EPS Cyber Crime Investigations Unit detective said a number of the investment scams started on an online dating platform.

“We know online dating is extremely common, so we want to ensure Edmontonians know the signs of a potential romance investment scam and understand that dating sites and social media should not be where you find cryptocurrency investment tips,” said Dana Gehring.

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EPS said a fraudster would approach the victim on a dating or social media platform, claim to live in Canada, many said they lived near Edmonton but were currently out of town. Geographical separation is a common romance scam tactic, said police.

Police added a fraudster would move the conversation off the dating platform onto a messaging app as soon as possible and then delete their dating profile. These fraudsters also keep communication to the messaging apps, no video call or in-person meetings.

Victims were initially told to send their cryptocurrency to a legitimate trading platform, but after trust had been built with the fraudster, they would be directed to a new investment website, which was fraudulent and controlled by scammers, EPS said.

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“We quickly trust strangers online, especially if we feel an emotional connection to them, so if that potential partner appears to be an expert and guarantees quick, high returns, it sounds perfect,” said Gehring. “That should be the first red flag — investments aren’t perfect.”

EPS encourages Edmontonians to conduct online searches for the phone number or address given by the person they are speaking with online, to call them and have video chats, research the websites and apps associated with the investment and meet them in person. Police said do not send personal documents or money without meeting someone first.

ktaniguchi@postmedia.com

twitter.com/kellentaniguchi

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