According to Canadian news sources, there is a new type of Bitcoin-related scam making the rounds. A story on the CBC website mentions how a woman was asked to make several cash deposits to cryptocurrency ATMs over several days. It is estimated around C$17,000 was obtained from just this one victim. The criminal’s choice to use Bitcoin raises a lot of questions, especially considering that the largest cryptocurrency is anything but an anonymous payment method. Police officials claim they cannot track the relevant transactions, though.
Bitcoin ATMs Involved in Canadian Scam
Criminals are getting craftier when it comes to scamming people out of their money. Locking computer files and encrypting them has proven to be a very lucrative business model over the past few years. However, there are plenty of other options waiting to be explored as well. According to the CBC, one such method involves scammers having victims deposit cash using Bitcoin ATMs.
One worrisome aspect of this story is how a bystander observing an older person putting cash into a Bitcoin ATM automatically assumed a connection to criminal activity. This goes to show how the public image of Bitcoin and all its related services are extremely skewed. The woman in question was also holding a CRA legal notice, which made things even more suspicious. It turns out she had allegedly been contacted by a person falsely claiming to work for the local police department. This seemingly hints at quite a complicated scam, although specifics are impossible to come by right now.
Once the police showed up and confronted the woman, her phone rang. During the call, the criminal identified herself as Mary Jones with the police department. The criminal also successfully spoofed the phone number to resemble the non-emergency line of the Hamilton police. For the time being, it remains anybody’s guess if this was a cop gone rogue or someone with some advanced skills successfully pulling off one of the biggest Bitcoin cons in years. After all, there is a history of law enforcement agents going rogue when Bitcoin is involved.
Further information revealed that the victim made several cash deposits to other Bitcoin ATMs in the same area. Canada has seen a rapid growth in the number of Bitcoin ATMs, although no one expected they would be used for nefarious purposes so soon. Around C$17,000 worth of Bitcoin has been purchased from the various machines, although no one knows for sure where the money was sent to. Hamilton, Ontario police officials claimed that transferring money into Bitcoin made it very hard to track. That is not exactly the case, as all Bitcoin transactions are recorded publicly in real time.
There are various blockchain analysis companies who will gladly help out any police team looking into suspicious Bitcoin transfers. There is some work to do for sure, but it goes to show there are many ways to find out who is behind this scam. The biggest concern is how this perpetrator can successfully imitate police officials – at least over the phone – and trick people into using Bitcoin ATMs to transmit significant sums of money in mere days. The letter in question must have appeared pretty legitimate to the victim, although no further specifics have been provided at this time.
The general public needs to be properly educated on how official government or administrative officials will never call or text people to force them to make payments, especially not with Bitcoin. It appears the Hamilton police have a major scammer on their hands who is more than willing to put them in a bad light right now. This sort of thing is what gives Bitcoin a bad reputation. It remains strange that criminals would opt for the one cryptocurrency which has no privacy or anonymity traits whatsoever.