Fabienne Chery has seen the popularity of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency grow and, like many others, wanted to get involved.
She saw a friend post a video on Instagram about doing just that and messaged them right away.
They directed her to another account, “nikkilove333”, where Chery was shown and talked through the process of how to purchase, share and send Bitcoin as part of an investment.
“She explained to me how it worked and what would be going on, so I sent her the funds to invest,” said Chery.
Little did she know, she was speaking to a hacker who had gained access to her friend’s account and used it to scam others.
“They, first of all, asked for $1,000 and then, after, they were telling me that since it’s Canadian I’d have to send the difference in American, so I had to send another $800,” she told CTV News.
It wasn’t until after that Chery realized she had not only been scammed out of $1,800, but had also been hacked herself and used as a tool to scam others.
“It was crazy, they hacked my Instagram account and used my account to share the same video I had initially seen,” she said.
“I was able to get my account back, but they were literally messaging my friends that were replying to the video and basically telling them the same thing.”
Hackers and scammers, like the one Chery fell victim to, have been racing through Alberta, and Lethbridge, since the start of 2021 according the Lethbridge Police Service.
“We’ve investigated multiple complaints with over 18 victims and local residents who have been defrauded of over $800,000 this year alone, said Sgt. Kevin Talbot of the economic crime unit.
Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is digital cash that can be bought and sold online, similar to stocks, and can also be used as legal tender in many cases.
Now, these fraudsters and scammers are posing as investors, or in some cases government officials, requesting cryptocurrency as payment.
Due to it’s digital format, it’s far more difficult to trace than bank transfers, making it an ideal target for predators.
Ben Perrin runs a YouTube channel out of Calgary called the ‘BTC Sessions’, an educational platform to learn about using and securing your Bitcoin.
Perrin says requests like these ones should raise some serious questions.
“No government entity is ever going to ask you to pay them in Bitcoin, at least not anywhere in the near future,” he said.
“In addition, if there’s ever absolute urgency to immediately, without thinking, give somebody money, that should be a major red flag.”
When it comes to investing in cryptocurrency, no matter what the method may be, Perrin says it’s best to take your time.
“Take baby steps and use small amounts of money if you decide that it’s even for you. Be sure to exercise caution at all times and ask a lot of questions,” he said.
When it comes to Chery’s situation, she said she has learned the hard way and hopes others will be able to learn from her mistake.
“I just hope what happened to me won’t happen to the next person,” she said.
“Just make sure to do the research before you even go into it. They will convince you, they will make you feel like this is the best opportunity, because I thought that.”
If you feel like you’re the target of an online, phone or crypto scam, be sure to contact you local authorities or visit the anti-fraud centre’s website.