VICTORIA -- Victoria police are warning local businesses of a "sophisticated" Bitcoin scam that defrauded two stores out of thousands of dollars earlier this week.

Police say that two stores belonging to the same parent company in Victoria and Saanich were targeted by the scams.

In both instances, a man called the retail stores and claimed to be a regional manager. He would then direct a store employee to take money to a local Bitcoin ATM to pay for a business licence that was required for an upcoming health inspection, or else their store would be closed.

Shortly after, police say that a second caller would contact the same store and tell the employee that they worked for a delivery company that would give them the aforementioned licence, but only after the fraudster received payment in advance. The second caller would also give the employee false details, such as an apparent tracking number for the delivery.

"The fraudster had detailed information about the operations of both stores, including the names and roles of various staff persons and store policy," said police in a release Friday. "This familiarity with the stores convinced both employees that the fraudsters were who they claimed to be."

In both incidents, the man pretending to be the store's regional manger identified himself as "Robert Wells." The man would remain on the phone with each employee until they completed the Bitcoin transaction, according to police.

In one incident, an employee transferred money from their store location. In the other instance, an employee transferred both store money and personal funds.

Police say both frauds happened "nearly simultaneously" on Wednesday afternoon.

VicPD is now warning local businesses and is encouraging business owners to conduct fraud awareness training with staff.

"Businesses, especially those with multiple locations, can protect themselves by providing in-house fraud awareness training and sharing warnings like this alert with their staff," said police.

"Institute clear, two-step approval processes and confirmation codes for financial transactions, and empower your employees to say 'no' to potential frauds," added VicPD.

Anyone with information on these incidents, or who may have bene targeted in similar scams, is asked to call VicPD at 250-995-7654.