1. They will convince the target that they are indeed the RCMP.
  2. The scammers will claim to have one of the target’s loved ones in custody.
  3. The criminals will explain that the only way for the family/friend to be released is if the target transfers a set amount of bitcoin to the QR Bitcoin address provided.
  4. Demographic of targets: The elderly, recent immigrants, the young (students with little knowledge of legal systems), and workers who receive payment under the table.

How it Works

Scammers use technology to mask their actual phone number; the caller ID will often show a legitimate RCMP phone number.  The scammers will attempt to scare their target into paying the “police” a large sum of bitcoins in order to have their loved one “freed”.

Once the scammers have convinced their target to pay for the release of said loved one, the scammers will send their Bitcoin wallet address in the form of a QR code.  The QR code will be sent to the target via SMS or email. When the QR code is scanned by the ATM, the target will be told to deposit their cash into the machine, to convert it to bitcoins.  Once the bitcoins have been sent to the QR address the transaction cannot be stopped or reversed. At this point, the scammers will often make additional excuses or reasons as to why the target must send additional funds to the QR address.

Prevention: Stay Alert

Absolutely no part of the Canadian government (including the RCMP) requests payment of bail (or similar) in the form of bitcoins.

If you suspect that the individual with whom you are speaking is not a legitimate police officer, be sure to ask for their name and badge number. Hang up the phone, then contact the police to confirm the validity of the caller’s identity.

In some instances, the scammers will have a very sophisticated network, and may even provide the information of a real police officer.  Under no circumstance should you provide the caller with any personal information. Inform the scammer that you will cooperate with the authorities by providing the requested information, in-person, at a police station.