Although the cryptocurrency market has been in a bearish condition since the beginning of the year and the trend has worsened in that last month, the crime rate involving cryptocurrencies has shown a steady increase.
This was confirmed by the local police in Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta in Canada. According to a local news outlet, the police warned the public of the increasing rate of crime in which criminals use cryptocurrencies preferably than fiat currencies to defraud victims.
While criminals have often posed as law enforcement agents as a means to dupe unsuspecting victims, the police said the criminals have moved from requesting payments in other forms to cryptocurrencies, majorly Bitcoin.
“While gift cards were once the preferred payment of choice, fraudsters are now increasingly demanding payment in other forms such as bitcoin and e-transfers.”
According to a report by the police, the 89% increase in fraud and identity theft incidents between 2013 and 2017 has seen a further increase of 9.5% in just 9 months in 2018. As a result, the cyber crimes and economic crimes unit have launched a campaign to educate newcomers to Edmonton as they are mostly the victims of these scams.
Officials of the unit also warned that scammers use Bitcoin ATMs to defraud users while posing as tax officials. Bitcoin ATM users have also been enjoined to use conventional ATMs for converting fiat currencies into Bitcoin rather than using Bitcoin ATMs to reduce the chances of being defrauded.
Despite all these and the public enlightenment that taxes are not accepted in Bitcoin, scammers have excelled in their schemes to defraud innocent citizens. The police, therefore, is taking its awareness program further with “brochures and multi-language ads”. This is to be made available in print and online in 2019 to ensure the public is adequately sensitized.
Previous trends have shown that scams involving Bitcoin seem to increase with an increase in the price of the asset. It is, therefore, sort of surprising that with the declining cryptocurrency market, criminals still use Bitcoin to defraud unsuspecting victims instead of fiat currencies that are relatively safe.
Several important people and government have speculated that Bitcoin is a means for criminals to scam people and these trends seem to confirm their enduring suspicion of the asset.
They have also suggested that regulation of the cryptocurrency industry can reduce crime rate using digital assets. Is this really true and should we expect worse when the market begins to see any real recovery if the crime rate is so high at this time?