Burnaby RCMP are warning the public after a senior was defrauded $7.5 million in one of the largest personal scams the police detachment has ever seen.
Police say the scam began in the spring of 2022 when the woman received a text message in Mandarin from someone with information about her personal business history. Over the course of several months, the scammer built a relationship with the woman over phone calls, texts and emails.
With the woman’s trust gained, the scammer then convinced her to invest millions of dollars into a cryptocurrency wallet on an online trading app. Police believe the app was a fake, designed to appear like a legitimate trading platform.
The woman realized something was wrong when she later tried to withdraw money and couldn’t. The person she had been speaking with had disappeared.
The woman thought her problem was solved, though, when someone using a different name reached out to her and said he could get her money back. She invested more money and was again scammed.
In December, she reached out to police about what had happened. RCMP say she was pressured and threatened throughout the scam.
“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,” Corp. Philip Ho, with the economic crime unit, said in a news release.
The detachment is flagging four warning signs for people to watch out for: An unusually high return on investment in a short period of time; Strangers messaging someone and taking an interest in their personal life; Suspects providing people with excuses to use when going to the bank to withdraw money; and, a lack of a formal contract or information when investing.
The investigation into the senior woman’s fraud case is ongoing.