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B.C. senior defrauded of $7.5M in crypto scam, police say

FILE PHOTO - An advertisement of Bitcoin, one of the cryptocurrencies, is displayed on a building in Hong Kong, on Nov. 18, 2021. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were collapsing in price Monday, June, 13, 2022 after the major crypto lender Celsius halted all withdrawals citing 'extreme market conditions.' It is the second collapse of a part of the crypto world in the last two months. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File) FILE PHOTO - An advertisement of Bitcoin, one of the cryptocurrencies, is displayed on a building in Hong Kong, on Nov. 18, 2021. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were collapsing in price Monday, June, 13, 2022 after the major crypto lender Celsius halted all withdrawals citing 'extreme market conditions.' It is the second collapse of a part of the crypto world in the last two months. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
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A B.C. senior was defrauded of $7.5 million in a months-long cryptocurrency scam, according to authorities.

The Burnaby RCMP described the "elaborate fraud" in a warning issued Thursday, calling the case "one of the largest personal scams the detachment has ever investigated."

The victim told police she was first contacted through a text message in Chinese in the Spring of 2022 by someone asking her about her "personal business history," Mounties said, noting that the woman speaks Mandarin.

“We are sharing this story to protect other people from falling victim to similar scams. Fraudsters are often changing tactics. In this case it appears they were able to tailor the scam to target this victim in particular," said Const. Philip Ho in the media release.

Over a period of months, the victim and the scammer communicated frequently via text, phone, and a chatting app and cultivating what the RCMP described as a friendly, trusting relationship. Eventually, the woman was convinced to invest millions of dollars in cryptocurrency.

Checking her investments online, they appeared to be legitimate, but police say this was part of the ruse and the apps the senior downloaded were "spoofed" to resemble recognizable trading platforms.

When she tried to withdraw her money, she was unable to, according to authorities who say "the person she was communicating with disappeared."

But that wasn't the end of it.

Someone using a different name reached out to the victim, offering to help her recover her money.

"The victim, who was pressured and threatened throughout the course of the scam, invested more, but unfortunately this was also a scam," according to police.

The victim reported her ordeal to police in December of 2022.

“These scammers went to great lengths over many months to defraud this senior and convince her these were legitimate investments,” Ho said.

“These types of frauds often go unreported, but it’s important that victims come forward to police so we can investigate and help support victims, who are at a higher risk of being re-victimized once they have been defrauded by a scam.”

No one has been arrested or charged in the case, but the investigation is ongoing.

The Burnaby RCMP is urging people to familiarize themselves with some of the warning signs of scams. Information on how to identify potential frauds is available online.

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