On Monday afternoon, the 27-year-old victim walked into police headquarters to report the scam, but the service admitted that payments through Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are nearly impossible to trace.
Police said the woman explained she received a call earlier in the day from someone claiming to be with the Canadian Border Services Agency.
“The caller claimed a package had been received with the female’s name on it, and that it contained materials consistent with trafficking,” police said in a news release.
“The caller advised the female would be arrested unless she paid a fine of $8,050 via Bitcoin. While still on the phone with the caller, the victim attended a downtown business with a Bitcoin ATM and deposited $7,750.”
The woman did not deposit the rest as she became suspicious of the person on the phone, police said.
The phone number used to call the victim is now out of service and police said there are “no viable investigative leads.”
To avoid falling victim to similar scams, police are urging residents to not provide any information to callers they don’t know.
The service also released the following list of tips:
- Do not click on links provided or follow directions from a caller you don’t know.
- If the caller claims to be from an agency such as Canadian Border Services or the Canada Revenue Agency, hang up and call the agency back directly before following any instructions. Look up the number yourself rather than using a number provided by the caller.
- The caller will use various means, including threats, to try to force you to act quickly. Don’t fall for it.
- No government agency will demand payment by gift cards or cryptocurrency. If they ask for this, hang up.
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