An Edmonton man says he was close to retirement when he invested in a cryptocurrency-based scam. He’s now out hundreds of thousands of dollars. The man looked for help and found an Edmonton-based non-profit group after more than two years of searching.
It all started when Cody Lauzon said he couldn’t pass up a post on Facebook for an opportunity of a lifetime.
“Someone kept calling me about this incredible investment opportunity. It was out of this world,” said Lauzon.
It began with small cryptocurrency investments of $1,000. When Lauzon saw his share was growing, he was told he needed to invest even more to have access to the money.
“All of a sudden he goes: ‘You have to send $100,000 USD as soon as possible and then automatically you’ll get a 150 per cent bonus.’ Then it was $200,000 CAD and as soon as I put the $200,000, there was $800,000 there that I was getting,” Lauzon said.
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Lauzon sent half a million dollars through wire transfers to accounts in Switzerland and others in Europe. He says when he would ask to take the money out of his crypto account, the people he was dealing with were hesitant and told him to wait.
“I ended up cashing out all of my RRSPs that I had saved up all my life,” he said.
Shortly after, the people he was in contact with went silent.
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“I knew something was funny because I could see that he was putting the money into different wallets instead of mine. That’s when I knew right then and there that everything was a total scam,” said Lauzon.
“He was changing his phone numbers, emails and taking longer to get back to me. All of a sudden, out of the blue, I couldn’t get ahold of him anymore.”
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Lauzon has had no access to his $500,000 since 2021 and has searched for help ever since, only recently discovering Fraud Hunters Canada.
“I’ve been looking and looking, and nobody seems to want to help or anything. (The organization) has been nothing but a godsend,” said Lauzon.
The Edmonton-based non-profit started after the founder, Jason Tschetter, lost $86,000 in a scam and says he couldn’t find any support either.
“Quickly I realized after I went to law enforcement that there was little aid available,” Tschetter said.
“The victims need to be heard especially with cybercrime, whether it be sextortion, extortion, cryptocurrency fraud or phishing scams. There’s just no resources.”
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According to the Fraud Hunters Canada website, its private investigators are professionally trained by CDI College and it partners with law enforcement. Investigators use programs, such as Mastercard Ciphertrace, to trace fraud cases and money trails. The group also connects clients with mental health resources, working as a post-fraud advocacy group.
The first step is connecting victims with investigators.
“They took us in and they helped track us, train us and teach us everything that we need to do to help victims of cybercrime related to cryptocurrency fraud. Working with them first allows them to create a case profile, and then we can supplement that by providing the admissible evidence which other law enforcement officers aren’t able to get,” said Tschetter.
After the investigation, the organization helps cybercrime victims prepare reports they can bring to police. From there, victims can work with local law enforcement to try and get their money back or possibly help track down those responsible.
“There’s hope. A lot of people think you can’t return stolen cryptocurrency and that’s the biggest falsehood of all. You can. We are now taking steps forward and we’re going to be the first in Canada to do this,” said Tschetter.
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Lauzon says he’ll always be grateful for the work of the organization, as he may see the money in his account sometime in the near future.
“Blessing in disguise, I don’t know what to say, thank god, thank god for finding them.”
Fraud Hunters Canada has investigators stationed across the country.
As part of its advice to victims, the group recommends first reporting the fraud to local police and the Canadian anti-fraud centre.
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