A Unique Way of Bitcoin ATM Fraud Emerges From Canada

While bitcoin scams and frauds are already popular in the crypto space, bad actors are not sparing bitcoin ATMs without exploiting ATM users as well. Recently, a scammer in Canada tried to trick bitcoin ATM users. Surprisingly, the scammer used a unique and very simple method to deceive users and reroute bitcoin transactions into his own account.

By just putting up a notice that suggested malfunction of ATMs, the scammer provided a QR code, belonging to the scammer, for users to transfer cryptocurrencies. The notice said that the software of ATM needed an upgrade and users would not be able to transact but provided QR code can be used for transacting cryptocurrency .

Out of 21 bitcoin ATMs placed in the city of Winnipeg, 2 ATMs had aforementioned notices. According to the local police, nobody fell for the scam and there’s no victim yet. To prevent people from losing their digital assets, police has alerted locals of these scams and instructed them to be careful.

Inclusion of illegal practices and scams in the crypto space isn’t prospective for bitcoin and crypto adoption. When BlockPublisher inquired the harmful impact of fraudulent practices from Shawn McBride, Chief Innovation Officer, McBride For Business, LLC, he replied:

Definitely! Many don’t know what bitcoin is and many confuse it with blockchain. But I have met many folks at events – business people – that have made the association between cryptocurrency and scams…..It makes people weary and is harming the cause of getting to know what cryptocurrency really is.

While the intentions of the scammer behind bitcoin ATM went in vain, another scammer in the Canadian region succeded in victimizing a restaurant owner. In Fredericton, a restaurant owner, Gina Zhang was tricked by a scammer.

The owner of restaurant Thai Manao, got a call by the scammer who posed as NB Power employee. One of the staff members received the call and passed on the message to Zhang. As per the message, Zhang had missed a bill payment so the power supply of her restaurant could be cut-off.

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To prevent power cut-off, the caller instructed Zhang to put about $1,000 in a bitcoin machine on the north side. Fearful of financial losses resulting from the power cut off, Zhang sent $1,000 but the scammer said that payment didn’t go through. Therefore, he asked her to send another $800 through the bitcoin machine.

According to Zhang, she became suspicious when another payment was requested by the scammer. She elaborated that the phone number of the caller was quite similar to NB Power’s number so she proceeded with his demands. Later, when she logged into her NB Power account, she noticed that there were no pending payments. At that moment, she realized that she had been scammed and could have avoided the fraud only if she had checked her account earlier in the beginning.

NB Power spokesperson, Sheila Lagacé, after taking the notice of the incident told that the department received several complaints of similar scams. She advised people to always simply check NB Power online accounts to clear doubts. Furthermore, she clarified that numerous notices and notifications are delivered to people before cutting off their supply and people should think before taking any action.

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Regarding the phone number identical to NB Power’s, she was not sure how did the scammer manage to get similar number and conveyed that this fact would be under investigation in the future. While urging people to look up for customer care phone number on the internet, she suggested that people should check with the department to clear doubts.

The practices of bad actors in the space have risen and their methodologies have become more advanced. Recently, McAfee Labs revealed a comprehensive report claiming a 29% increase in crypto malware attacks in 2019.

The report highlighted new crypto jacking campaigns such as PsMiner and CookieMiner. It was mentioned that these campaigns were effectively used for secretly mining cryptocurrency on Microsoft windows platforms and Apple platforms.

The hackers and scammers in the crypto space are very active and they are on the move. Every now and then, some incident robbing people of their cryptos takes place. Apart from that, causing irreparable damage, scammers are looting the wealth of local people.

It would be beneficial for people and cryptocurrencies if authorities deploy serious attention to these events and investigate the cases. Upon catching and lawfully dealing with the bad actors, the faith on cryptocurrencies can be easily restored and a safe environment for people can be created.

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Fatir Malik

Electrical engineer by profession, turned into blockchain developer. Fatir contributes regularly with his insights about latest developments in fintech sector. Contact the editor at

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