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Cryptocurrency and lottery scam defrauds LaSalle residents of nearly $1 million

LaSalle police are warning residents of a fraud trend which offers “amazing investment opportunities or lottery winnings,” police say they already investigated three such reports — which totalled a loss of about $1 million.

Police say over the past month there have been three reports relating to this financial crime trend which often occurs online after a person receives unsolicited emails, texts, and sometimes phone calls about these fraudulent offers.

Police say in two of the reports, the fraud was committed after the victims invested a significant amount of money through a fake online cryptocurrency agency. Once they tried to withdraw their “seemingly rapidly growing investments,” they were instructed to send more money to process “withdrawal fees.”

Police say the victims never received their investment money, and were now also out the “fees” they paid to get their funds.

“Cryptocurrency refers to a digital asset or currency, such as Bitcoin, which may be a medium of exchange, for which ownership records are generated and supported through a decentralized distribution ledger technology that relies on cryptography, such as Blockchain,” police explained in a news release.

In the third case, the victim received an email saying they had one a lottery which included $1 million and a car. Police say this is what’s known as a “lottery scam.”

Once the victim contacted a representative, they were told they needed to pay the “fees” to process the winnings, then it would be delivered to them.

Over a period of time, police say a “substantial amount” of money was sent to the scammers through prepaid credit cards, bank deposits, and wire transfers but the “winnings” never came. Instead, there was always some new fee or issue that require money to resolve before the prizes could be delivered.

“Remember, if you didn’t enter a lottery, how could you have won? How did they get your information? Did you provide it on a lottery entry?” police reminded residents.

Police say they are continuing to investigate these frauds, however, cryptocurrency and wire transfer frauds are very difficult to trace and track where the money is and has been sent.

Officers warn in most cases, victims will likely never receive their money back.

“We urge everyone to ‘do your homework’ before investing or giving money to any entity and always remember if it seems too good to be true…it is!” police said.

If residents have questions or concerns about the legitimacy of an investment opportunity or lottery, police suggest consulting a family member, trusted financial advisor, or police who can help determine its legitimacy before your part with your hard-earned cash.

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