Alberta RCMP have received a number of complaints from businesses who have fallen victim to the Head Office Bitcoin scam. Over the past several months, fraudsters have been targeting businesses throughout the province in a sophisticated scam in order to receive Bitcoin currency, defrauding both employees and businesses out of thousands of dollars.
Staff would receive a call from a person claiming to be a regional or district manager. In many cases the fraudster has researched the names of staff and managers. The fraudster had detailed information about the operations of the businesses, including the names and roles of various staff persons and store policies. This familiarity with the stores convinces the employee that the fraudsters were who they claimed to be. The staff are told that an important shipment is imminent and receiving it is vital.
The staff are then advised that there has been a problem with the payment for the shipment and the only way to not delay it is an immediate payment in bitcoin.
A second caller claiming to be an employee of the shipping company then calls to confirm the shipment and provide a tracking number and advises that payment is required before delivery.
In some of the incidents, employees took money from the store to the bitcoin ATM. In the others incident, the employee took both funds from the store and from their own personal account to the bitcoin ATM to make the payment.
The first caller would stay on the line with each employee until they completed the bitcoin transaction. It was only after completing the transaction that the employee realized they had fallen victim to professional fraudsters.
Alberta RCMP are encouraging businesses to protect themselves by providing in-house fraud awareness training and sharing warnings like this alert with their staff. 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.
If you have fallen victim to this, or any other financial scam, please contact your local police service for assistance. If you experienced a similar fraud attempt, but did not lose any money, please report it to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm/.