Cryptocurrency, or “crypto,” has surged in popularity, with digital currencies like Bitcoin gaining widespread use. However, this popularity has also made it a target for scammers, leading to consumers losing over $1 billion to crypto scams in the first half of 2022, as reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The appeal of crypto for scammers lies in its decentralized nature, the irreversible nature of transactions and the general lack of understanding among most people about how crypto operates. The absence of a centralized authority to flag suspicious transactions makes it an attractive playground for fraudsters.
Scammers employ various methods to initiate contact with potential victims, such as email phishing, SMS text messages (smishing), phone calls, packages and social media. They often use personal information to target victims or even imitate someone known to the victim. One common tactic is to promise unrealistically high returns on crypto investments.
The process involves instructing victims to convert US dollars into Bitcoin and send it to a specific digital address, frequently using Bitcoin ATMs for the transaction. Once the funds are transferred, the irreversible nature of crypto transactions leaves victims with no recourse.
To avoid falling victim to crypto scams, consumers are advised to exercise caution when dealing with cryptocurrency transactions. Running transactions through professionals like banks, CPAs or tax professionals can help verify legitimacy. Additionally, individuals should not send money on behalf of others and extra scrutiny is needed for checks received via non-USPS mail services.
If a situation seems suspicious, consulting trusted advisors is crucial. Scammers often employ tactics like repeated contact, harassment and pressure to prevent victims from seeking advice or reporting the situation to authorities.
In case you have already fallen victim to a scam, steps can be taken to mitigate further harm. Victims should contact the FBI through ic3.gov to report identity theft, reach out to the bank’s fraud department, and remain vigilant against future scam attempts.
Overall, the rise in crypto popularity has brought about a parallel surge in scams, making it imperative for consumers to educate themselves, exercise caution and seek professional advice before engaging in cryptocurrency transactions.
For more detailed information please visit RCB Bank website at the RCB Bank Security Center.
Fletcher, E. (2022, August 11). Reports show scammers cashing in on crypto craze. Federal Trade Commission. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/06/reports-show-scammers-cashing-crypto-craze