VANCOUVER -- Abbotsford police are warning the public to be on the lookout for scammers amid what they call "a noted increase in Bitcoin fraud" in their city.

Since October, at least nine Abbotsford residents have fallen victim to scams in which fraudsters call pretending to be from a government agency and threaten to arrest them if they don't send payment in Bitcoin, according to a news release from Abbotsford police.

In total, those nine cases the department is aware of have led to victims sending the equivalent of $68,440 to fraudsters, police said.

The increase in reports of fraud prompted police to issue a reminder to citizens to "remain vigilant" when someone calls and threatens them with arrest.

"The caller is NOT from a police agency, the Canada Revenue Agency, Social Insurance office or an immigration officer," police said in their warning. "These agencies will never call you to threaten you with arrest. The people who are calling are criminals attempting to extort money from you."

Anyone who has been the victim of fraud is asked to follow six steps recommended by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, police said. Those steps are:

  1. Gather information about the fraud, including documents, receipts, copies of emails and other messages
  2. Report the incident to local law enforcement
  3. Contact the CAFC at 888-495-8501 or use its online fraud reporting system
  4. Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent
  5. If the fraud took place online, report the incident directly to the website where it happened, such as through a "report abuse" button
  6. If the fraud involved identity theft, notify all financial institutions of this fact, and report it to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion