RCMP are warning the public about what is being called the “Head Office Bitcoin scam.”
Over the last several months, scammers have been targeting businesses across Alberta in a sophisticated scam to receive Bitcoin currency, defrauding employees and businesses.
Fraudsters will call a business claiming to be a regional or district manager, often researching the names and staff members ahead of time. They’ll also provide information about the business's operations, including store policies. Knowing the stores makes employees believe scammers are who they say they are.
Following that, staff are informed that a shipment is arriving and its arrival is crucial; then, they are told that there is a problem with the shipment's payment and must immediately pay in bitcoin to receive the shipment.
A second caller, claiming to be an employee of the shipping company, will call to confirm the shipment and provide a tracking number so long as payment is received before delivery.
In some of the incidents, employees took money from the store to the bitcoin ATM. In another incident, the employee took both funds from the store and their personal account to the bitcoin ATM to make the payment. The first caller would stay on the phone with the employee until the transaction was completed.
Employees were unaware they had fallen victim to professional fraudsters until they had completed the transaction. There have been a number of these scams reported to the RCMP in recent months.
The Alberta RCMP encourages businesses to educate their employees against fraud and share examples of fraud, including the Bitcoin scam, with their staff. Create clear, two-step approval processes for financial transactions using a keyword or id number, and empower your employees to refuse potential fraud.
Anyone who has fallen victim to this scam is asked to contact the police. If you experienced a similar fraud attempt but did not lose any money, you can report it to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre here.