A can’t-miss offer from B.C. Securities Commission

Who: The B.C. Securities Commission, with One Twenty Three West for strategy and creative; Basis Technologies for media.

What: “Spot the Scams,” a new campaign timed for Fraud Prevention Month alerting B.C. residents to the prevalence of crypto scams. It’s One Twenty Three West’s first work for the B.C. Securities Commission since winning the account in a formal review last year.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, anchored by a series of three videos that are being shown on connected TV, supported by digital audio, social and OOH. All of the ads drive to a dedicated site called CryptoScams.ca.

Why: According to the Competition Bureau of Canada, Canadians are being scammed out of “record-breaking dollar amounts” via cryptocurrency investment fraud, losing an estimated $308.6 million in 2022. That was nearly twice the $164 million lost in 2021. These scams are nationwide, but they’ve become particularly prevalent in B.C.

While their tactics may differ, the B.C. Securities Commission says that scams typically share characteristics, such as a guaranteed high return on investment; complicated jargon and hard-to-understand language; unlicensed salespeople; unsolicited offers; and pressure to buy. All are present and accounted for in the campaign.

How: The video creative mimics the breathless, fast-talking style of scammers that are popping up with increasing regularity on platforms like TikTok. In each video, a con artist presents a make-money-fast crypto scam that is clearly phoney (with one man even informing viewers that he’s going to help them double his income) before an on-screen super appears reading: “The scam is never this obvious.”

At CryptoScams.ca, a man who says he’s known as the Crypto Keeper—”because I help you keep your crypto”— urges visitors to click on links explaining popular scam tactics like fake crypto websites and crypto giveaways. There are also short videos devoted to non-crypto scams like Ponzi schemes and romance scams.

The John Hodgman-esque Crypto Keeper also injects some personality into the site, including getting a little antsy if visitors don’t click on the links. “We gonna have a staring contest, or we gonna learn about crypto scams here?” he says at one point. “These are some good links,” he says later.

And we quote:“Scammers are using the popularity and complexity of crypto assets to target vulnerable investors on social media. This can result in total losses and other devastating real-world consequences for investors. With this campaign, we want to help British Columbians protect themselves from fraud by learning to recognize the red flags of online crypto investment scams.” — Pamela McDonald, director of communications and education, B.C. Securities Commission

Chris Powell