The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says the number one scam in 2020 was romance fraud with Canadians losing $18.5 million dollars to criminals and the number two top scam was investment fraud with losses of $16.5 million.
Now, it appears criminals are starting to use the two scams together.
“These are scams of trust at the end of the day and they are going to build up your trust. They are going to spend that time with you and tell you what you need to hear,” Jeff Thomson with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said.
Whenever you say you want to meet the person online in-person, they say they can’t “with COVID-19 now being the prime reason,” Thomson said.
Criminals appear to be bringing the two top scams together using social media and dating apps to try to convince people to get involved in phoney investments.
A woman, who is the mother of two children and lives in the Greater Toronto Area, asked us not to reveal her identity but she says she lost more than $80,000 in an online investment scam.
The woman said she met a man through Facebook who told her he could coach her on ways to make a lot of money on a new trading platform using cryptocurrencies.
The woman said when she contacted the trading website, “the manager assured me that you know this is what is being done now during the pandemic and there is a crazy return on every investment.”
She said she was told “now is the time to do it.”
The woman said she started out with $500, which she says appeared to be worth $5,000 within days on a trading website she was on.
She kept putting in more money, but when she went to take it out she was told there were broker fees, taxes and other costs to be paid.
The woman claims she kept borrowing money from family and friends until she invested more than $80,000, money that is now gone.
The woman said she feels “betrayed, hurt. I still can’t believe it. Nobody knows.”
Police say the investment scam is happening world wide and there has been a warning issued by the international police force Interpol.
Criminals may give investment tips, coaching advice and set up websites that look legitimate.
“You see an account. You see the money going up and down and when a victim goes to access it they can't or it's all gone,” Thomson said.
The woman says her family doesn't know she got caught in the investment scam. Not only did she lose $80,000 dollars, but much of the money was borrowed and she still has to pay it back.
She said she feels devastated. “I haven't been working for the past two years so I was just looking for a way to do something. To end up in a situation like that like I never thought it would happen to me,” the woman said.
Experts ask people to cautious of anyone met online, the phone or in-person who says you can make easy money trading cryptocurrencies. Whenever an investment sounds like it's too good to be true, chances are it is.