Alberta RCMP warning businesses of bitcoin scam

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Mounties are warning Albertans of a scam involving bitcoin that has defrauded employees and businesses out of thousands of dollars.

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In a news release Friday, RCMP said they have received a number of complaints from businesses who have fallen victim to the “Head Office Bitcoin” scam.

Police said staff would receive a call from someone claiming to be a regional or district manager, and in many cases researched the names of staff and managers. The fraudster would have information on the business operation, including names and roles of staff and various store policies in order to convince the employee they are who they claim to be.

Staff are told that an important shipment is coming, and receiving it is vital, but there has been a problem with payment for the shipment and the only way to not delay the shipment is payment in bitcoin.

Police said a second person then calls claiming to be from the shipping company to confirm the shipment and provide a tracking number, as well as emphasize payment is required before delivery.

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In some cases, employees took money from the store to the bitcoin ATM, while in others employees took funds both from the store and their personal accounts in order to make the payment.

The first caller would remain on the line with the employee until they have completed the bitcoin transaction. Only after did the employees realize they were a victim of fraud.

“Alberta RCMP are encouraging businesses to protect themselves by providing in-house fraud awareness training and sharing warnings like this alert with their staff,” Mounties said. “Institute clear, two-step approval processes, using a code word or ID number for financial transactions, and empower your employees to say ‘no’ to potential frauds.”

Anyone who is a victim of a scam should report it to their local police service.

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