Warning on crypto and romance frauds

May 28, 2024
Ottawa, Ontario

News release

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) are raising awareness among Canadians about the increasing threat of sophisticated scams, particularly those involving extended online communication. These scams often culminate in convincing individuals to invest in various schemes, frequently involving cryptocurrencies.

These elaborate scams use social manipulation and financial grooming tactics to exploit the public's interest in, and incomplete understanding of, crypto assets. Victims are lured into transferring increasing amounts of money.

Typical investment frauds offer "get rich quick" opportunities and promise higher than normal returns. Unfortunately, these frauds often result in investors losing most, or all, of their money.

The CAFC is also noticing an increase in romance/investment scams, a method colloquially known as "pig butchering". Victims are contacted on dating apps/websites or social media by fraudsters attempting to develop a relationship to gain trust. The fraudster then claims to have been successful in cryptocurrency investments and offers to help the victim "get rich". Fraudsters use fake online trading platforms and convince victims to transfer funds or cryptocurrency into their trading account, often resulting in the victim being unable to withdraw their funds.

Fraudsters may try to befriend the victim, develop an online romance, or pose as legitimate investment advisers. Over time, the scammer will suggest investing in an opportunity, often involving crypto assets, and once a substantial amount of money or crypto is sent, the scammer abruptly ceases contact.

In some cases, when victims request their money back, the fraudster agrees but demands additional funds for supposed taxes and fees before disappearing. Victims may also be approached by new entities offering to help recover their funds for a fee, which is yet another layer of fraud.

Watch out for these red flags

How Canadians can protect themselves

If you believe you have been a victim of this or a similar scam, immediately contact your bank, local police, your provincial or territorial securities commission, and the CAFC.

Quick facts

Associated links


Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Joanna Nicholson
Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization

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