bitcoin for dummies

Bitcoin for Dummies

Bitcoin can be confusing, largely because it is different from typical money and investments. In this Bitcoin for Dummies guide we break down the key things that you should know to trade safely.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a form of digital currency or cryptocurrency. It was created in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009. Its value fluctuates in the same manner that a public company’s stock price does.

While it isn’t the first cryptocurrency, it is the first decentralized crypto to reach widespread adoption and success. It remains the most valuable and popular crypto today.

The price tends to fluctuate more than the general market and, because it is traded 24/7, it is not subject to market opens and closes.

How Does Bitcoin Work?

Bitcoin is known as a decentralized currency with no central authority. In contrast, fiat currency, such as the US dollar or Euro, are controlled by the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, respectively.

Cryptocurrencies utilize a blockchain, or a shared public ledger, to record and confirm all transactions between parties. Crypto is known as a peer-to-peer transaction network and can perform settlements between one party and another, or from one party to multiple other parties, at once.

If you remember torrenting music a few years ago, the blockchain works in a similar way. All transactions are confirmed by the computers, or “nodes,” on the network and ensure that all parties have the appropriate balance. To confirm a settlement, a majority of nodes must agree that the transaction is valid.

blockchain technology
Blockchain technology: a vast network of nodes. (Photo via Medium).

Parties complete transactions and store assets via digital wallets, which contain a private key that only the owner knows. These keys are used to sign transactions, providing a mathematical proof that the owner has given their authorization.

How Are Bitcoins Created?

Bitcoins are rewarded to computers that exert computational power to solve extremely complex mathematical functions. The difficulty of these functions increases over time as the supply decreases until all coins have been released.

Setting up a computer to solve these equations can be quite costly, especially in terms of the electricity. The act of generating new coins is called mining. In 2009, when the first coins were issued, it did not take much computational power to mine. Now, it may take years for a high-powered computer to be rewarded with a single Bitcoin.

It is set within the code that only 21 million coins will be created. It is estimated that the last one will be issued around the year 2140. The fixed supply is part of the general attraction, as opposed to USD.

A Bitcoin mine in Quebec, Canada. (Image via Christinne Muschi / Alamy).

Why Do People Want Bitcoin?

There are a few reasons why people want Bitcoin. It is not controlled by governments or banks, rather it is supported by a network of computers, which are composed of thousands of separate parties.

Those that hold and transact cryptocurrency can also do so anonymously. While transactions are recorded on a public ledger, the owners behind the wallet addresses are unknown unless you release that information.

Bitcoin’s value has also skyrocketed since its creation, surpassing the return with general markets like the S&P 500, bonds, Gold and in some cases, real estate.

Price of Bitcoin in CAD since its creation in 2009
Price of Bitcoin in CAD since its creation in 2009. (Source: Yahoo! Finance).

Why Does Bitcoin Have Value?

There are many things other than money that hold a fluctuating value like gold, diamonds and oil. The Micronesian Yap Islands once used large stones called rai as currency!

As long as another person is willing to exchange Bitcoin for goods or services, Bitcoin will hold value.

How Do I Get Bitcoin?

For starters, you can get Bitcoin here at HoneyBadger! You can purchase it via e-transfer, at one of our ATM locations or over the counter with a dedicated human account manager for large-volume trades.

You can also purchase Bitcoin from us on the exchange, then transfer it to your digital wallet to hold. If you do not have a digital wallet, we can hold your coins in our custodial wallet until you are ready for us to transfer it to you.

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Who is Bitcoin's founder? Is this Satoshi Nakamoto

Who is Bitcoin’s Founder, Satoshi Nakamoto?

The Bitcoin Whitepaper

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, a thesis paper was published on on October 31, 2008. The paper focused on an electronic cash payment system without the need for a financial institution. The paper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ by Satoshi Nakamoto was a mere nine pages long but exceptionally detailed for a thesis paper.

Bitcoin whitepaper written by Satoshi Nakamoto
The nine-page Bitcoin whitepaper written by Satoshi Nakamoto (Source:

At a time when faith in the banking industry was at its depths, an idea for a transaction system was born “without relying on trust” as Satoshi stated.

First Bitcoin Transaction

Bitcoin’s Genesis Block was mined on January 3, 2009. A genesis block is the first block mined in a blockchain. Nine days later, the first Bitcoin transaction occurred at block 170 between Satoshi and Hal Finney.

Hal Finney was an American software developer and a strong advocate for cryptography.

Hal Finney with his wife, Fran Finney
Hal Finney with his wife, Fran Finney. (Source:

A month later, Satoshi posted the software to Bitcoin and his design paper on the P2P Foundation forum.

“I’ve developed a new open source P2P e-cash system called Bitcoin. It’s completely decentralized, with no central server or trusted parties, because everything is based on crypto proof instead of trust. Give it a try, or take a look at the screenshots and design paper.”

Satoshi introducing Bitcoin on the P2P Foundation forum in 2009 (Source:

Satoshi Nakamoto

The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is still unknown. The name is a pseudonym and whether Satoshi was an individual or a group of individuals is not known.

The name Nakamoto is of Japanese origin and Satoshi’s forum profile claims they are from Japan, however, the whitepaper, along with forum posts on P2P Foundation, was written in fluent English. This suggests that the individual(s) is not likely to be Japanese but from an English speaking country.

In the first year of Bitcoin’s existence, Satoshi mined as much as 1.1 million Bitcoin, currently worth roughly CAD $29.5 billion at the time of this publication.

It has been over 11 years since Satoshi sent his final message on the forum. Satoshi urged WikiLeaks to not use Bitcoin to raise funds after major payment processors blocked donations to the organization.

The next day on December 12, 2010, Satoshi wrote, “There’s more work to do on DoS…,” specifically referring to potential denial-of-service attacks on the Bitcoin software.

In early 2011, Satoshi kept in communication with some of the initial users of Bitcoin via email. Former senior software engineer at Google, Mike Hearn asked Satoshi if he had planned on rejoining the blockchain community.

Satoshi replied to Hearn, “I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone.” Satoshi was referring to Gavin Andresen, an American software developer.

After sending their final message, Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared and their anonymity has remained intact to this day.

Who is bitcoin's founder Satoshi Nakamoto
A bronze statue paying tribute to Satoshi Nakamoto in Budapest, Hungary (Source: @Quicktake/Twitter)

The Hunt for Satoshi Nakamoto

In 2014, a man by the name of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto surfaced. He is a Californian engineer who supposedly had never heard of Bitcoin until his son mentioned it to him. He has continuously denied the allegations that he is the creator of Bitcoin. It is likely that if Satoshi wanted to remain anonymous, they would have used a pseudonym, not their actual name.

On the other hand, Australian computer scientist Craig Wright has consistently claimed that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright has even pursued legal actions revolving around his claims of founding the world’s largest cryptocurrency. Specifically he filed a copyright claim on the Bitcoin whitepaper and initial code.

Alleged Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig Wright
Alleged Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig Wright (Source:

Nick Szabo has been linked to Satoshi Nakamoto since 2015. Szabo is a computer engineer, legal scholar and cryptographer.

He is known for his work on smart contracts and the founding of bit gold. Bit gold is perceived as the precursor to Bitcoin. Szabo has continuously denied being Satoshi.

Hal Finney may seem like an easy target, as he received the first Bitcoin transaction in 2009 from Satoshi Nakamoto. Finney was also one of the first to work on Bitcoin’s open-source code and coincidentally had lived in the same town as Dorian Nakamoto. That being said, Finney has shown evidence against being Satoshi through his Bitcoin wallet’s history and email correspondence with Satoshi. Finney passed away in 2014 from ALS.

Will Satoshi Resurface?

Given the market value of Bitcoin and its widespread adoption, Satoshi has certainly done a phenomenal job at concealing their identity. We may never know who is Bitcoin’s founder.

Part of the reason that makes Bitcoin so attractive to other cryptocurrencies and other forms of assets is its decentralized nature. Uncovering who may be the founder could likely lead to the decline of the cryptocurrency and the underlying philosophy of its origins as a peer-to-peer transaction system in the absence of any intermediary.

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Best Way to Buy Bitcoin in Canada
Buying Crypto, Education, Finance

What is the Best Way to Buy Bitcoin in Canada?

There are a lot of options when it comes to investing in cryptocurrency, but what is the best way to buy Bitcoin in Canada?

The good news is there are plenty of methods to choose from so there is something for everyone. Below we have outlined the pros and cons of 10 different ways to purchase crypto. We have also given each one a score out of five for the following categories: convenience, security, and value.

Read on to find out the best way to buy Bitcoin in Canada for you.

How can I buy Bitcoin in Canada?

The good thing about living in a relatively crypto-friendly country like Canada is there are lots of options to exchange fiat currency for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like Litecoin and Ethereum.

The first decision you have to make is whether you want to trade online or in person at a physical location. That’s right, you can actually swap cold hard cash for cryptocurrency!

The next step is to choose a payment method. In a short space of time, trading platforms have expanded their ways to pay exponentially. While it may seem intimidating at first, don’t fear! We have compiled some of the most popular options out there to help you make up your mind.

Crypto gift cards

Crypto gift cards just like any gift card you might buy at a normal retail store. The main difference is you can’t buy goods and services with it. Instead, you can send someone a digital gift card with crypto assets from your own wallet or by buying a certain amount with fiat currency.


  • Potential to increase in value: A crypto gift card is essentially a hot wallet, meaning it holds a certain amount of crypto on it. This means the value could increase if you hodl it.
  • Great gift idea: Whether you are looking for a present for a Bitcoin maximalist or someone who knows next to nothing about crypto, a gift card is a fun and easy gift idea. The recipient doesn’t even need a bank account. All they need is a crypto wallet.


  • Lack of flexibility: Once you buy a gift card using fiat, you lock in your chosen coin. If the recipient is more into altcoins, for example, you’d probably be better off just sending them some cash.
  • Not secure: If a gift card gets lost in the mail, there’s not much you can do to retrieve your coins. Similarly, if it gets stolen, someone could easily extract the value for themselves. This is a lot riskier than simply sending it from your wallet.

Convenience: 3/5

Security: 1/5

Value: 3/5

Bitcoin ATM

Bitcoin ATMs, also known as Bitcoin kiosks or BTMs, enable you to exchange cash for BTC, Litecoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies in person. Although they are different from the machines you would find at a traditional bank, just like an ATM, you can deposit or withdraw cash. The main difference is you buy cryptocurrency when you deposit cash and you sell it when you make a withdrawal.

Bitcoin ATMs are a great option because they save a lot of the hassle of going through lengthy online sign up processes and they are one of the easiest methods to use.


  • Simple to use: It doesn’t get much easier than inserting cash into a machine and instantly buying your cryptocurrency of choice. All you need is cash, a phone, and a digital wallet. This makes it a great way to explore the market without the hassle of creating an account with an online exchange.
  • Direct: There is no middleman at all if you buy from an ATM. It’s a direct transaction so there’s no waiting for funds to arrive from your bank or for an online exchange to approve your transaction.
  • Secure: Bitcoin ATM providers are regulated by FINTRAC. If you are unsure about whether the machine you are using is legit, you can search for the name of the company on FINTRAC’s registry for peace of mind your transaction will be secure.


  • Must have cash: If you don’t happen to have cash on you, there are not a lot of options out there to buy at a machine. Fortunately, there are ways you can still transact without cash, such as via Interac® e-transfer.
  • Fees: one of the drawbacks of machines is that trading fees are usually higher than online exchanges. Of course this all depends on your personal preference and plenty of people prefer to use Bitcoin ATMs for the convenience and ease of use.

Convenience: 5/5

Security: 5/5

Value: 3/5

OTC Desk Locations

OTC, or over-the-counter, involves buying cryptocurrency via a broker, either in person or virtually. This option is ideal for investors looking for a personalized service.You speak directly to an account manager who provides advice and handles the trade for you.

The downside is you usually have to spend a certain amount to qualify, however, using private exchange services makes sense for large volume trades. 


  • Personalized service: Having someone else place a trade on your behalf removes a lot of the stress involved in buying Bitcoin.
  • Expert advice: OTC brokers usually have experience when it comes to making trades. If you’re new to the world of cryptocurrency, expert advice can help maximize your investment.


  • Fees: At the end of the day, you are paying for a service with OTC, and this is reflected in the slightly higher fees you pay.
  • Large volume: OTC is designed for people with large sums to invest in Bitcoin, meaning it is not suitable for the average customer.

Convenience: 5/5

Security: 5/5

Value: 3/5

Purchase Bitcoin direct from a seller

There are forums and posts on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Reddit, and Craigslist (That’s right! Remember Craigslist?) as well as niche sites where people will literally sell you Bitcoin. Of course, there are risks involved because you’re essentially buying from a stranger.

It is possible to find cheaper rates, but this method is more labour intensive than other alternatives. When you buy from a reputable company, you do not need to scour multiple websites for a cheaper deal, customers know exactly what to expect every time.


  • Bargain deals: People who buy crypto this way are usually looking to squeeze every satoshi they can out of a deal. It is possible to find some great rates, especially if you find a motivated seller.


  • Risky: Buyers take on a lot of risk when they buy directly from a seller online. Often there is no way of knowing if the seller will deliver what they promise.
  • Time consuming: Searching through page after page to find the best deal consumes a lot of time and effort.

Convenience: 1/5

Security: 1/5

Value: 3/5

INTERAC® e-Transfer

INTERAC® e-Transfer is arguably the best way to buy Bitcoin in Canada. It is as easy as sending money to a friend, it takes just a few minutes, and the fees are relatively low. Transactions are secure when you buy Bitcoin via e-Transfer from a reputable company and service is convenient and fast.

The sign up process is much shorter for e-transfer than it is for online crypto exchanges like Newton or Shakepay, which can take hours or even days to go through. Similarly, you don’t have to wait what seems like an age for a bank wire transfer to fund your account.


  • Fast: Transactions are usually seamless and completed in a matter of minutes.
  • Secure: So long as you are buying from a trusted source, you can rely on the proven INTERAC® e-Transfer infrastructure, so you know your funds will be safe.
  • Simple: All you need to get started for transactions below $1,000 is a phone number and there are no extra hoops you have to jump through like there are for online exchanges.


  • Limited transaction size: A downside to using e-Transfer is your bank will usually limit the amount you can send in one day. So long as you only plan to purchase Bitcoin below a few thousand Canadian dollars in value, however, this option is perfectly suitable.

Convenience: 5/5

Security: 5/5

Value: 3/5


Buying digital currencies with a debit card is a simple way to join the cryptocurrency world. It works just like making a standard purchase online. All you need to do is pick a trustworthy trading platform, sign up for an account and enter your card details.

The downside of debit transactions is that not all banks allow it and some operators will flag crypto purchases as fraudulent. This can lead to long, frustrating delays.


  • Fast: Most exchanges can process transactions quickly.
  • Simple: The sign up process usually takes a few minutes, unlike online exchanges.


  • Bank restrictions: Banks can sometimes get involved and prevent purchases from going through

Convenience: 3/5

Security: 5/5

Value: 3/5


You should tread carefully when buying crypto with a credit card. Customers should avoid making speculative purchases and only spend what they know they can pay back comfortably.

One of the key drawbacks of using a credit card is the fees. Banks usually charge more for purchases of cryptocurrency on credit because of the inherent risk the borrower might not be able to pay it back.

Having said that, if you’re responsible and know what you’re doing, buying Bitcoin with a credit card is as equally straightforward as using a debit card.


  • Convenient: Just like debit transactions, the process is usually fast and simple.


  • Fees: There are cheaper options out there that are just as fast and convenient.

Convenience: 3/5

Security: 5/5

Value: 1/5

Bank wire transfer

If the fees involved with using a credit card put you off and you have some time on your hands, bank wire transfers are a cheaper alternative. There are usually no bank fees involved in transferring money to fund your crypto account, however, whether you run into problems with your bank is another question.

Bank transfers can take days to go through, especially if you are a first time buyer. This can be annoying to say the least, especially if you miss out on an opportunity with a Bitcoin price fluctuation, for example.


  • Free: Bank transfers to fund your account usually cost nothing.


  • Time: Wires sometimes take a day or two to go through.

Convenience: 1/5

Security: 5/5

Value: 3/5


Some mobile apps, such as Wealth Simple, offer Bitcoin investment options. The apps are usually user-friendly and if you are familiar with how they work, funding your account is simple enough.

It is important to exercise caution when choosing which app to go with. Make sure the app allows you to send BTC to your crypto wallet. Some providers only allow you to keep funds in their custody wallet, meaning you do not have total control over your crypto asset.


  • User-friendly: If you’re new to crypto, the apps will help to guide you through the whole process.


  • Lack of control: Some apps only allow you to keep funds in their custody wallet.

Convenience: 2/5

Security: 3/5

Value: 3/5

Online exchanges

If you have looked into buying cryptocurrency at all you are bound to have come across online exchanges like Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken. These trading platforms are usually good for beginners and offer a wide range of altcoins in addition to the more established cryptocurrencies.

While they are a lot of people’s first step into the crypto universe, many people soon start looking for alternatives. Users are put off by lengthy sign up processes, privacy concerns, and poor customer service.


  • Guidance: Most sign-up processes, while lengthy, are well designed and walk the user through step-by-step.


  • Slow: If you are using an exchange for the first time, it can take a long time to get your account approved and funded.
  • Invasive: Some online exchanges require you to surrender a lot of information before you can start trading.

Convenience: 3/5

Security: 3/5

Value: 3/5


There is no shortage of methods you can use to buy Bitcoin. INTERAC® e-Transfer is the best way to buy Bitcoin in Canada from an overall perspective. It scored highest in our ratings and is generally fast, secure, and good value.

The ultimate deciding factor in what defines “best”, however, is you. That is the great thing about cryptocurrency today: with more ways to buy than ever before there is bound to be an option that fits your needs and level of knowledge.

Click here to buy using INTERAC® e-Transfer

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Custody Wallet

No Bitcoin wallet? No problem. Store your coins with us.


What Is a Custody Wallet?

Did you make a purchase at one of our kiosks by scanning the QR Code above?

Your coins have been purchased and sent to our HoneyBadger Custody Wallet. This means we currently hold your bitcoin for you.

Don’t want to hold onto your own coins?

No worries! You can keep them with us for as long as you’d like. They are kept secure with our experienced team and won’t be moved or used for any other purpose. You can request to withdraw your bitcoin at any time, free of charge.

Want to take possession of your bitcoin?

How to transfer funds from HoneyBadger’s Custody Wallet
  1. Download a Bitcoin wallet. Follow our guide here to download and set one up

  2. Open the wallet app on your device once the setup is complete

  3. Select Bitcoin

  4. Click “Receive”

  5. A QR code with a string of characters below it will appear. This is your wallet address (it will look something like this 33NKBfY7zqe6XTSY7jEGgZNqfSoyX5KW)

  6. Click copy or tap directly on the string of characters

  7. Open your email and paste your wallet address into the email’s body

    *Double check that the pasted address matches the one in your Bitcoin wallet

  8. Also in the email body, send us your transaction ID & phone number

  9. Send email to with the subject line Custody Wallet Withdrawal

  10. A follow up email will be sent to you confirming the transfer

That’s it! Now you have a bitcoin wallet and are holding your own coins. Welcome to the future. Thank you for the business and we hope to see you again soon.

Terms: Customers are responsible for providing a valid Bitcoin address beginning with 1, 3, or bc1q This service is for personal use only. We will not send coins to a 3rd party Bitcoin is sent using a low transfer rate. It may take some time for the coins to be received. Please see the transaction link provided by email for up to date progress. Specific wallet questions should be directed to the wallet provider. HoneyBadger is unable to assist in any wallet related issues.  This service is for Bitcoin only, we cannot transfer to a Litecoin and/or Ethereum wallet.

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How to Set up a Bitcoin Wallet

Step 1: Download

Download a Bitcoin wallet from your mobile device’s App Store. We recommend Green by Blockstream. It is free, highly encrypted, and simple to use.

There are many other easy to use bitcoin wallets which can be found here.

Step 2: Set Up Wallet

Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the wallet setup.

Write down the 12 or 24 “seed” words provided for you.

Keep these words somewhere safe and private. You will need them in case you lose access to your wallet.

Contact your wallet provider if you have any issues.

Step 3: Scan QR Code

When you have access to your newly created Bitcoin wallet, you should see a balance of 0.00 BTC (bitcoin)

Click on “Receive” to view your QR code and wallet address

Scan this QR code at any HoneyBadger ATM to purchase Bitcoin

Withdrawing from our custody wallet? Follow the instructions here.

Need more help?

Watch this video for assistance.

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Fraud Education

HoneyBadger invests significant resources to protect our customers from fraudulent, suspicious, or unwarranted transactions – an unwavering priority that is unique in the industry. Fraudsters are getting more inventive, and we are consistently discovering new inventive tactics which has resulted in the successful return of over $1.4 million dollars to those affected since 2018.

The Relationship Imposture

Scenario: An online relationship is formed with someone living abroad who is requesting money via Bitcoin for financial reasons or support (commonly for flights, family medical emergencies, equipment, moving or wedding expenses). As the connection grows, there is often a promise to move to Canada and/or get married.

Why it Works?

Emotions are targeted with promises of love and happiness with a person who has typically presented themselves as an attractive, younger person with a professional job.

Initial Contact

They generally reach out directly on social media platforms, dating sites or special interest online forums.

Warning Signs

  • You have never met in person, but they make ongoing promises of an ideal life together
  • Ongoing requests for money (typically, starting low and escalating)
  • They provide their wallet address (a QR Code) and coach you what to say if the Bitcoin company asks
  • Direct messaged you over social media
  • They communicate exclusively through email, texts, or phone calls – you have never seen them in person or a live video chat (they do not show their face only pictures)
  • Flight delays persist that prevent a promised meeting due to a family emergency, immigration delay, etc.
  • Phone numbers may be blocked (note: numbers may be masked to show your region)


Romance-related fraudulent activity is the most common scenario we encounter. Large online call centres exist in foreign countries that solely target individuals by scouring the internet and social media channels. They are very convincing and will continue contact until money is no longer sent.

Job Offer Fraud

Scenario: A jobseeker is asked to send Bitcoin to a new employer that they met online. The employer sends a fraudulent e-transfer / cheque to the job-seeker’s bank and requests that they return the majority back in Bitcoin. The job may be an online consumer review position and as part of the hiring process, several tasks must be performed such as visiting a bank to review the process, then going to a Bitcoin machine to return the value in Bitcoin.

Why it Works?

Money is deposited directly to the job-seeker’s bank account with the illusion that it is part of the job.

Initial Contact

They typically reach out on an online job site, followed by direct messages on social media, texts, emails or phone calls.

Warning Signs

  • Employer insists on receiving a Bitcoin payment to continue with employment
  • Employer sends funds to a personal bank account in order to complete employment contract signing (this may be positioned as a hiring bonus)
  • Jobseekers are prompted not to wait for the clearing period before sending Bitcoin payment


Currently, these scenarios are on the rise due to the increase in unemployment. Remote work is common so not meeting an employer face-to-face is not uncommon. An employer will always provide all the means to be successful in day-to-day work and Bitcoin should never be sent to an employer to begin working for them.

CRA/Government Institution/Police Extortion

Scenario: A caller states a person must send Bitcoin to the CRA, often asserting that their SIN has been compromised. They are directed to empty their bank account and send all funds for safe keeping for their protection. The funds are directed to a Bitcoin wallet address owned by the perpetrator.

Why it Works?

Fear is instilled that there will be an arrest if they do not follow instructions.

Initial Contact

A fraudulent “CRA Agent” calls random mobile phone numbers seeking out potential opportunities.

Warning Signs

  • The call is initiated by a robot, connecting to a human afterwards. Personal information is gathered, such as name, address, SIN, line of credit and how much money is in the person’s bank account
  • The fake agent does not allow the call to be ended until the transaction complete
  • The fake agent is reassuring and insists they are there to help – they may provide a badge number or other information to lead the belief that they are legitimate


Government agencies do not accept Bitcoin as a payment measure. The CRA or any government agency will never contact individuals to insist on immediate payment or emptying a personal bank account for preventive measures. No one has control of a Bitcoin wallet addresses they did not personally create, so money will go directly to a third party in this instance.

Customs Scam

Scenario: An individual is led to believe they are receiving a package from overseas and are told by someone posing as a shipping company that they must pay for it in Bitcoin to clear customs.

Why it Works?

Not everyone easily detects that a shipping company is fake or realizes that they are paying in Bitcoin if they are unfamiliar with cryptocurrency.

Initial Contact

Once someone believes a package is being mailed to them, a fake shipping company will get in touch regarding fake custom charges. After successfully accomplishing this scheme once, they may attempt to be in contact again with instruction to send more to pay off additional charges afterwards.

Warning Signs

  • A QR code is sent and the fraudster states that credit cards or other methods of payment cannot be used – only Bitcoin
  • The shipping company has a fake website with no way to contact them directly


It is exceedingly rare for a shipping company to accept Bitcoin for payment, and Customs does not accept Bitcoin as payment. If the “shipping company” has a website that contains simple mistakes (spelling/grammar/design flaws), it is likely fake.

Rental Scams

Scenario: A rental property is listed online, and the potential renter is instructed to pay for the deposit and/or first month’s rent with Bitcoin before receiving keys to the property. As soon as funds are received, contact abruptly ends.

Why it Works?

The rental property seems too good to be true with cheap rent, a quick move-in date, no tenancy agreement needed, etc.

Initial Contact

Listings will appear on sites like Craigslist/Kijiji/Facebook Marketplace and further communication may continue by text or direct messages.

Warning Signs

  • There is no in-person viewing of the rental and no potential to view until deposit is paid
  • There is aggressive language or legal action is threatened if money is not sent in Bitcoin
  • There is no signed tenancy agreement in writing prior to making the deposit


All rental properties should have a tenancy agreement. Renters should always view a place in-person before signing up to live in it, and never pay for rent/deposits in Bitcoin to someone they have not met in person.

Used Vehicle Scheme

Scenario: A car is listed online, and the price is extremely reasonable. The location of the vehicle is often far away, and the potential customer cannot view it before they must pay in Bitcoin.

Why it Works?

The listings are on legitimate websites and documentation which appears to be authentic may be provided.

Initial Contact

Real sites are used such as Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay.

Warning Signs

  • The vehicle is usually priced much lower than the average price of the model
  • They use direct messages, texts and calls to communicate and do not meet in person
  • Confirmed Scam: Documents are sent by “eBay Motors” to convey how to purchase/pay for a deposit for a vehicle with Bitcoin


Do not pay for a vehicle without viewing/test driving it to ensure it is in working order. Websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay do not offer buyer protection if payment is made in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Investment Hoax

Scenario: Broker or online investment platform/representative requests a deposit at Bitcoin ATM (see this example from a well-known Twitter Bitcoin scandal) in exchange for offering investment tips, advice or to invest, guaranteeing results.

Why it Works?

The potential to make money quickly is a strong motivator.

Initial Contact

Connections can be made through Facebook, Instagram, chat groups, investment forums, email, or other social platforms.

Warning Signs

  • Promises of very high returns or income and making money fast Overseas offices, no listed addresses, promotional websites without information about location, risk, or insurance
  • Overly aggressive or very personable sales tactics
  • Advertising “no-risk”, “High Yield Investment Programs”, “ACT NOW” or other pushy/flashy marketing
  • There is a prompt to recruit friends, or friends keep sending you the same investment program (they are likely paid or will be if you sign up)
  • Person reaching out poses as being wealthy, influential or pretends to be a real CEO, political, investor or celebrity
  • Constant spam messages, emails, or phone calls


If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Do research before making any financial decision. Reach out to a licensed financial advisor or institution with any concerns.

Bill Payment Falsification

Scenario: Individuals receive a phone call or email from someone pretending to be a utility service provider (BC Hydro, Atco, Sask Power, Hydro-Quebec, Telus, etc.) and request immediate payment for an overdue bill or outstanding payment, only payable in Bitcoin.

Why it Works?

The caller seems very convincing and typically has a threatening tone. People want to believe they are doing the right thing and getting caught up on their bills. They often target older citizens and immigrants.

Initial Contact

Frequent phone calls come from call centres, “robot” dialers or emails.

Warning Signs

  • Threats to cut your power or service
  • Caller or email doesn’t have full information about your account
  • Unusual payment methods such as gift cards, Bitcoin or asking for a credit card over the phone
  • The phone number goes to a different person or company when called back
  • Email comes from an odd address (ex. or
  • Using different phone numbers, masking or “spoofing” a number to appear it comes from a real company
  • A recording plays once call is answered


No service provider will cut off a customer immediately or on first notice of late or missed payment. Customers generally have 30 – 90 days to make payments, usually with fees or interest on overdue bills. Beware of official looking email or phone numbers, as incoming phone numbers can appear as the real number. Hang up the phone and log into online accounts or reach out to a company’s official support to get clarity on any outstanding bills.

Immigration Deception

Scenario: A phone call or email is received from an “immigration officer” asking to confirm personal/financial information or offering a special time-limited deal to get a faster or cheaper visa. There may also be threats of arrest, jail time, loss of visa or status, deportation, or account suspension if personal information and/or Bitcoin payment is not provided.

Why it Works?

People who pose as an immigration officer prey on the emotions of immigrants’ desire to stay in Canada by threatening their visa status or attempting to entice them to take measures to get a visa right away.

Initial Contact

A call or email will be received by someone who has applied for or already received a visa.

Warning Signs

  • Email starting with “Dear customer/client” and/or is sent from a private host eg: Gmail, Hotmail
  • Asking to confirm your personal or financial information
  • Threats to your immigration status
  • Requests of quick action as it is a time sensitive matter, or advising to act quickly to get a special circumstances visa
  • Offering a special deal or exclusive visa that seems too good to be true


The Canadian government will never ask somebody to pay in Bitcoin. The IRCC will not ask individuals to confirm personal information or collect money over the phone and will only email using a address (eg. There is no easy way to speed up the process of getting a visa, and no one can guarantee visa status except for government officials.

Lawyer Impersonation

Scenario: An innocent person is contacted by someone pretending to be a lawyer, who claims there are charges against them or a loved one, and they will offer to act as their lawyer to assist. They will then request a legal fee in Bitcoin to cover the cost of their services.

Why it Works?

Fear can lead to a person making an irrational, impulsive decision so they will aim to shock a person into fear and then use a kind tone to offer help.

Initial Contact

Generally, this begins with a phone call with an automated voice and connects to a real person afterwards.

Warning Signs

  • Offering a discounted rate for their service
  • Claims that charges can stay a secret by using them as a lawyer
  • Not providing documentation of the charges/their legal fee structure or an invoice
  • A call begins with an automated message to discuss legal matter with you
  • Pressure to pay a fee for a lawyer you have not met


Real lawyers will not accept Bitcoin as payment. Lawyers will not contact you about charges against you and not require a fee to begin legal services. The legal process takes time and there is no up-front rush to pay a fee in a legal case that would justify this type of approach.

COVID-19 Health Con

Scenario: Someone claiming to be sick with COVID-19 says they need help. Generally, this person has developed an online relationship for months prior before claiming they contracted the virus and need assistance with paying medical or other resulting expenses.

Why it Works?

An emotional bond and attachment are formed by consistent chatting, and strong efforts are made to build the illusion of a strong relationship before requesting financial help.

Initial Contact

Generally, Facebook, Instagram or dating sites/apps will be used to make a connection.

Warning Signs

  • A person you haven’t met is asking for money
  • They are falling “in love” quickly and in a fast-moving relationship
  • They may have asked about your financial information
  • The person is asking you personal information such as your full name, where you live, and other possible security answer questions for your email/social accounts
  • They offer an elaborate story explaining how they contracted COVID and how they cannot pay hospital fees.


Real lawyers will not accept Bitcoin as payment. Lawyers will not contact you about charges against you and not require a fee to begin legal services. The legal process takes time and there is no up-front rush to pay a fee in a legal case that would justify this type of approach.

Celebrity Relationship Misrepresentation

Scenario: A person is contacted by a “celebrity”, and they begin to build a trusting relationship online. Information and pictures of this celebrity may be shared to attempt to prove their identity. They request discretion and share details of a struggle they are dealing with, eventually asking for help, as their funds are temporarily inaccessible.

Why it Works?

People are naturally in awe of celebrities and are inclined to believe that personal details and pictures about the celebrity are authentic. A flirty bond is often initiated in order to form an emotional, trusting connection.

Initial Contact

This almost exclusively occurs online on dating websites or lookalike social media accounts with the fake celebrity initiating conversation.

Warning Signs

  • Flirty or suggestive messages/pictures
  • Asking to remain discreet about the relationship
  • Asking for money
  • The relationship moves quickly
  • Celebrity initiating conversation using a pseudonymous name or account


Real lawyers will not force you to send Bitcoin as payment. Lawyers will not contact you about charges against you and not require a fee to begin legal services. The legal process takes time and there is no up-front rush to pay a fee in a legal case that would justify this type of approach.

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