The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has revealed that Americans parted with more than $10 billion last year due to online fraud.
Malefactors drained $2.57 billion of this amount through cryptocurrency investment schemes.
Crypto Scams on the Rise
Despite the mostly bearish year for the cryptocurrency industry, 2022 has been fruitful for criminals. They flew nearly $2.6 billion from US consumers using investment schemes tied to bitcoin and other digital assets. On the other hand, such a fraud brought in “only” $907 million in 2021.
“Crypto investment scams have seen an unprecedented increase in casualties and dollar losses for these investors. Many victims incurred massive debts to cover losses from these fraudulent investments,” the FBI report said.
The agency revealed that the most targeted group is people between the ages of 30 and 49. Previous studies have shown that these people are quite active in crypto, while older investors have yet to embrace the asset class.
The FBI has outlined the most common ways crypto scammers attack victims. They often trick people into linking their wallets to a scam cash mining app and thereby steal their funds or hack their social media accounts.
Celebrity impersonation is also a popular method: criminals post a video of a dubious investment plan and display the face of a well-known person to give the impression that their project is legitimate. Needless to say, celebrities haven’t given permission to appear in the ad, while victims who join the fraud often lose their money.
Subsequently, crypto scammers sometimes pose as real estate professionals or employers of a company that offers investment advice. Instead of giving valuable advice, however, they try to rob the targets as much as possible.
Romance crypto fraud has also become very popular
A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) research revealed that such scams affected thousands of Americans between January 2021 and March 2022, resulting in the misappropriation of $185 million.
Malefactors often choose lonely individuals by pretending to be in love with them. Once they have earned their trust, they urge them to invest in a mysterious cryptocurrency project, lying that the large profits could fund a potential wedding or a romantic vacation.
“Victims of romance scams learn that the heart isn’t so smart the hard way. Their search for love makes them easy prey for conniving individuals who cheat them out of their money. They set up an elaborate scam that makes their victims swoon, and by the time the victim understands, they will be several thousand dollars poor,” Bankless Times explained.
This type of fraud seems to be very popular in the UK. A Briton whose name has not been revealed lost $200,000 worth of bitcoins last year after chatting online with a woman called Jia. The latter advised him to allocate the assets in a suspicious application, assuring that the product would be important. Shortly after, the man saw his equilibrium “clear” while the woman ceased all contact with him.
A British pensioner living in Nottinghamshire separate with $207,000 this year after falling victim to a similar scam. She fell in love with a person who introduced himself as a US Army surgeon and asked her to transfer money to a particular bitcoin wallet. His bank and the local police returned more than half of the sum.
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