A retailer with outlets in Saanich and Victoria was the target of a bitcoin scam this week, according to VicPD.

Two different outlets were defrauded of thousands of dollars when scammers posed as regional managers for the retailer.

The frauds occurred nearly simultaneously on Wednesday afternoon. A man calling himself “Robert Wells” phoned the retail locations, claiming to be the regional manager.

He then claimed that business licenses that were needed for health inspections were to be delivered to the stores.

The fraudster said that without the license, the store would be closed. While he remained on the phone, a second fraudster called the store, claiming to be from a delivery company.

This second fraudster then demanded bitcoin payment in advance of arrival. He also provided a fake tracking number to appear more convincing.

Employees were directed by “Robert Wells” to take money to a local bitcoin ATM. This fraudster had detailed information about the store operations, including the names and roles of staff.

He also had knowledge of store policy. This information convinced employees in both outlets that the fraudsters were genuine.

An employee from one outlet took store money to the bitcoin ATM. In the other incident, the employee used both store funds as well as money from their personal account to make the payment.

The fraudster posing as “Robert Wells” stayed on the phoned until the bitcoin transaction was completed.

Only following the completion of the payment did the victims realize they had been defrauded.

VicPD say the incident serves as a reminder for employers to provide in-house fraud training and sharing warnings with their staff.

Employees should be empowered to say no to potential frauds. Two-step approval processes and confirmation codes for financial transactions are further security steps that can be taken.

Anyone with information on this incident or who experienced something similar should call the VicPD at (250) 995-7654 extension 1.

Other fraud attempts where no loss occurred can be reported to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm/.  

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