Bitcoin Scam
(photo via Unsplash)

Nanaimo RCMP are urging businesses to update their anti-fraud training and policy after two local hotels were scammed for almost $1,700.

The incidents both took place in early June. In the first case, a hotel employee was contacted by a person calling himself John Davis.

“Davis” said they were calling from the hotel’s head office, and were arranging delivery of a package to the Nanaimo location. The caller claimed that the package contained a business license and items for an upcoming health inspection.

They then said that if the package was not received within 24 hours, the hotel could be shut down. “Davis” told the employee that money had to be sent to FedEx immediately to pay for the delivery.

Under the assumption they would be reimbursed by the company, the employee used almost $1,000 of his own money, and a less amount of company money, to cover the cost of delivery.

The scammer then told the employee to deposit the money in a nearby bitcoin ATM. It was only after the money was deposited that the employee spoke with their real head office, and confirmed it was a scam.

Nanaimo RCMP a second incident later occurred and was almost identical to the first. In the latter incident, an employee was scammed out of $500 of his own money.

“It’s not hard to see why people fall for these types of scams,” said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

“There is an urgency to it and it seems legitimate. Employees however, must always ensure they know who they are dealing with when it comes to financial transactions and confirm by various means that the request is authentic.”

O’Brien suggested the following tips for financial safety at businesses:

  • Always know who you are dealing with when it involves money
  • Double check the reference
  • Limit the amount of money employees have authority for without a second signature
  • Request the information in writing and do not accept money requests over the phone
  • Familiarize yourself on how your company conducts financial transactions. If bitcoin is not an approved method of payment, this should be a red flag

More information on frauds and scams is available through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at