An Ontario man says he is ‘devastated’ after spending his entire life savings in an investment scam he got involved from a YouTube video he watched.
“I’m devastated. It ruined me, and it’s my life savings gone,” said Stephen Carr of Meaford, Ont.
Online investment scams continue to be a massive problem in Canada, and Carr is one of many victims.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, 2021 saw $379 million in fraudulent losses in Canada, with the number one cause for loss being cryptocurrency fraud.
Carr said he was on YouTube when he saw a video that promised he could make large amounts of money trading commodities, foreign currencies and cryptocurrencies.
He said he contacted the company and started off with an initial amount of $250 to invest. When that appeared to be growing, he put in another $2,500.
At one point, Carr asked for a $1,000 withdrawal, which he received and gave him confidence the website was legitimate.
After that, from a period in October 2022 to January 2023, Carr invested his life savings of $498,000.
“What I didn’t know at the time is this trading platform I was on was a simulation, it wasn’t connected to anything, like a flight simulator that’s not connected to a real airplane,” he said.
Carr became concerned when he thought his funds had grown to 1.3 million and wanted to take some out. But, he was told he would have to pay a $150,000 liquidation provision to get his money.
“I got conned, and in hindsight, I put a ridiculous amount of money in this and a ridiculous amount of trust in these people,” said Carr.
“I’m devastated. I’m in the process of selling my house and have to reorganize my life. I’ve got maybe two or three months of useable cash left, and that’s it.”
Jason Tschetter of Alberta lost $81,000 in a crypto scam last year. Tschetter started Fraud Hunters Canada, a group that tries to support victims and help them recover their money.
With international boundaries and limited police resources, it’s almost impossible to do.
“These criminals have turned this into an actual business, and for them, business is booming,” said Tschetter. “Unfortunately, the police are strapped for manpower, and they don’t have the time to research all the fraud that comes through.”
Fraud Hunters Canada can help someone who has been caught in an investment scam by giving them resources and guidance.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to go through the anger, the depression, the denial. They will even try to bargain with the criminal, but it just won’t work,” said Tschetter.
Carr said when he tried to recover his funds, he ran into more scams.
“I’ve spoken to several recovery firms, but a lot of them are in the same boat and are fraudulent themselves,” said Carr.
Carr said he reached out to CTV News Toronto to share his story to prevent others from being scammed.
“If I can get conned, then a lot of other people can get conned, and they have my entire retirement savings,” said Carr.