WINNIPEG - It’s Financial Literacy Month, and the Manitoba Securities Commission says it’s time to call out fraud. The agency is issuing a warning about increasingly common cryptocurrency and other scams that can cost Manitobans hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Commission, a division of the Manitoba Financial Services Agency, is seeking to raise awareness about investment fraud. Commission Education and Communications Manager Ainsley Cunningham says the campaign provides an opportunity for Manitobans to hear what fraud sounds like, with recordings that expose the tactics scammers are using to bully and manipulate Manitobans.
"It is so easy to fall victim to these scams and that needs to change,” said Cunningham says. MSC is shining a spotlight on overseas call centres staffed with agents who use convincing pressure tactics to persuade victims to send money. “These scammers are professionals. They know just how to make people feel at ease before they put on the pressure and steal your money,” Cunningham explains. MSC says it’s been seeing an increase in this type of fraud throughout the pandemic, with losses of $250 to $600,000 reported.
Analysts note the old method of getting victims to buy gift cards is being replaced with visits to cryptocurrency ATMs, with callers keeping victims on the line while giving directions on where to find the nearest machine, and how to deposit money into it. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says $144 million left the country between January and September due to fraud, and the Winnipeg Police Service says its Financial Crimes Unit gets reports of cryptocurrency fraud cases every day.
MSC is urging people to get advice about any "investment opportunity" from a financial professional registered with the commission to avoid becoming a fraud victim, and to call 1-855-FRAUD-MB to report any suspicious offers or phone calls.
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