The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that Americans parted with more than $10 billion last year due to online fraud.
The wrongdoers drained $2.57 billion of that amount through cryptocurrency investment schemes.
Crypto scams on the rise
Despite the predominantly bearish year for the cryptocurrency industry, 2022 was fruitful for criminals. They stolen almost $2.6 billion US consumers using investment schemes related to bitcoin and other digital assets. In contrast, such fraud resulted in “only” $907 million in 2021.
“Crypto investment scams saw unprecedented increases in the number of victims and dollar losses for these investors. Many victims have taken on massive debts to cover the losses from these fraudulent investments,” the FBI report says.
The agency revealed that the most targeted group is people aged 30-49. Previous studies have shown that these individuals are quite active in the cryptocurrency arena, while older investors have not yet embraced the asset class.
The FBI outlined the most common ways cryptocurrency scammers target victims. They often lure people into linking their wallets to a fraudulent liquidity mining app and thereby stealing their funds or hacking into their social media accounts.
Celebrity impersonation is also a popular method: criminals broadcast a video of a dubious investment scheme and post the face of a well-known person to make their project appear legitimate. Needless to say, celebrities have not given their permission to appear in the ad, while victims who join the scam often lose their money.
Subsequently, crypto scammers sometimes pose as real estate professionals or employers of a company offering investment advice. However, instead of providing valuable guidance, they try to steal as many of the targets as possible.
Romance Crypto Fraud also became very popular
An investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that such scams affected thousands of Americans between January 2021 and March 2022, resulting in the theft of $185 million.
Criminals often target lonely people by pretending to be in love with them. Once they gain their trust, they urge them to invest in a mysterious cryptocurrency project, lying that the significant profits could finance a potential wedding or 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 scheming people who trick them out of their money. They stage an elaborate scam that makes their victims swoon for them, and by the time the victim finds out, they will be several thousand dollars poorer,” Bankless Times explained.
This type of fraud seems to be quite popular in the UK. A British man whose name was not released. lost $200,000 worth of bitcoins last year after chatting online with a woman named Jia. The latter advised him to assign the assets to a suspicious application, assuring him that the profits would be great. Shortly after doing so, the man saw his balance “cleared” while the woman stopped having contact with him.
A British pensioner living in Nottinghamshire They separated 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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