Police are shining a spotlight on the owners of a North Delta convenience store for helping stop several people from falling victim to fraud.
Delta police say retail stores — and those who own or work in them — can have a big role to play in helping to stop a growing type of fraud, and Sarita and Ravi Patel of Mike’s Convenience Store in Kennedy Heights Shopping Centre have already stopped a number of customers from losing thousands of dollars to scammers who tried dupe their victims into making deposits at a Bitcoin ATM located in the store.
According to a press release, Const. Dustin Classen from the Delta Police Department’s cybercrime unit stopped by the store on Nov. 12 to proactively reach out to the Patels about common Bitcoin scams, some of which involve victims being threatened with arrest and/or deportation.
“We talked … and they agreed to post warning signage around the Bitcoin ATM,” Classen said in a press release.
Hours after Classen left the store, the Patels were able to stop a young man from depositing $5,500 in the ATM as part of an attempted scam.
Unfortunately, it’s not the only time the couple have felt compelled to take action.
“We’ve stopped others — young people, seniors,” Ravi Patel said in a press release.
He explained that, in his experience, some of the people targeted are alone and have no one to speak to when they receive the threatening call.
“They are worried about their future. Maybe they are new to Canada and they don’t understand,” he said.
Often times, he says, the scammers will keep their victims on the phone for hours, using threats and intimidation, and refusing to let them talk to anyone else who could intervene and stop them from losing money.
And though he speaks five languages, including Punjabi and Hindi, and is uniquely able to help, it’s challenging for Ravi and Sarita to get the potential victim’s attention and convince them not to follow through on the scam.
It’s a tactic Classen is also familiar with.
“It’s a high-pressure tactic, and these scammers often target victims who are unfamiliar with Canadian laws,” Classen said. “The key takeaway [is] you cannot pay your taxes or utility bills through Bitcoin ATMs in Canada. Anyone who directs you to do this is trying to steal your money.”
As for the young man who nearly deposited $5,500 into the Bitcoin ATM at Mike’s Convenience Store last month, he got back in touch with the Patels via text to thank them for stopping him from spending months of his savings.
“You are a breath of fresh air in this society and I appreciate you so much,” he wrote.
His kind message meant a lot to the Patels.
“This kind of gesture helps us in boosting up our energy levels to serve the beautiful North Delta community. We find our purpose of coming to Canada and serving nice people is coming true,” Ravi Patel said.