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Manitobans losing money to online investment fraud

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Manitobans are being warned about the rise in fraudulent online investment websites, which have exploited some Manitobans out of more than $200,000.

During the Manitoba Securities Commission's (MSC) ongoing investigation into cryptocurrency fraud, the agency uncovered 66 victims in Manitoba who were scammed through 34 separate online platforms. These Manitobans had transferred money to offshore crypto exchanges based in Lithuania and Bulgaria.

According to Jason Roy, MSC senior investigator, the initial investments were smaller amounts of money as the fraudsters know if they ask for too much money right off the bat, then people are more likely to decline the offer.

“They start with these small amounts and then show you fake trading results and get you excited about putting more money in,” he said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Monday.

The victims’ losses ranged from $306 to $206,000, with the total losses coming to $710,000.

Roy said there are likely a lot more investment fraud victims in Manitoba, but they may feel too embarrassed to report what happened to them.

“Really, only five to 10 per cent of victims actually report being victimized,” he said.

For those who come across an online investment website, there are certain things to look out for to ensure it is legitimate. Roy recommends ensuring that you are dealing with a company that is registered to do business in Canada. Checking a company’s registration can be done online.

Other common attributes of the investment fraud websites uncovered in the MSC investigation include:

  1. Targeting victims on social media;
  2. Promoting cryptocurrency or Forex trading;
  3. Promising an unreasonably high or quick return on investment;
  4. Victims being unable to withdraw their initial investment or fake returns;
  5. Operating offshore, but telling investors they have offices in Canada;
  6. Requesting investors to convert funds to cryptocurrency; and
  7. Getting investors to provide remote access to their computers or phones.

Those who are solicited by a fake trading website, which can appear to be legitimate, are asked to report the incident by calling 1-855-372-8362.

- With files from CTV’s Katherine Dow.

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