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International student living in Kelowna scammed out of $3,500 in bitcoin

RCMP prompt warning
The Abbotsford Police Department is warning about a recent phone/bank scam that resulted in two people losing approximately $46,000. (Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

An international student attending a Kelowna post-secondary school was recently scammed out of $3,500 in bitcoin.

The student was threatened with deportation during a phone call where someone was impersonating a government employee. As she was unfamiliar with Canadian laws, she completed the transaction without talking to friends or family as she feared she would be deported, according to police.

Now Kelowna RCMP want to inform the public that government agency employees will never ask for a payment to be made using cryptocurrency. If a payment is required, government employees do not use threats or extreme urgency like the tactics used by scammers in these types of frauds.

“If the person won’t let you off the phone or makes any types of threats if the call were to end, this is fraud and should be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and your local police,” said Const. Mike Della Paolera.

All scam phone calls should be reported to police, regardless if money was transferred or not.

The Anti-Fraud Centre keeps an updated database of the various types of fraud affecting Canadians.

To avoid telephone scams, remember that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not:

• Collect money or payments by phone or prepaid credit cards or through a private money transfer service provider (e.g. Pay Pal or MoneyGram). See how to pay your fees to find out how IRCC collects payments.

• Ask you to confirm the basic personal information you already provided on a form.

In some telephone scams, the caller pretends to be the police or immigration officer and tells you that you broke the law. It is probably a scam or a phishing scheme if:

• You have to pay money, or

• You need to give personal information (date of birth, passport number, bank account or credit card information, etc.), or

• You are told you will be arrested, go to jail, lose your visa or status, be deported, or have your account suspended if you don’t pay or give your personal information.

Be aware: Scammers often give a fake name and agent number to appear legitimate. If you think the caller is a scammer:

• Ask for the name and number of the agent, and

• All the Call Centre to confirm the agent’s identity.

If you received a suspicious call, hang up immediately and:

• Call your local police if you lost money.
• Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
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