IBPO Against Scammers: Crypto Scams
Cryptocurrency is all the rage at the moment, with news of its various crashes and rises. Some people are devoting almost all their time to crypto investment and hoping to make it big.
Whatever you think of cryptocurrency, it is here to stay, and it is making some people very rich. Unfortunately, scammers also know this, and they’ve begun to use the lure of crypto riches to con victims off thousands of dollars or ringgit.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency secured by cryptography. Cryptography makes it almost impossible to counterfeit or double-spend a cryptocurrency. They are mostly decentralised and not issued by central authority, making them immune to government interference or manipulation.
In an earlier article, we covered in detail what cryptocurrency is and how it works, do give it a read!
Examples of Cryptocurrency Scams
Most of the more well known scam cases involving cryptocurrency have occurred outside Malaysia, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down.
Posing As Cryptocurrency Exchange
Scammers posing as agents from crypto coin websites have successfully fooled victims into sending money to be converted into cryptocurrency. The victim then sent only a copy of her driver’s license and that was enough for the scammers to access her bank accounts.
Her bank notified her that scammers were moving her money from her savings account to checking account, and then trying to wire out a total of USD 50,000. Fortunately, they were stopped.
Know that your information is likely to be readily available out there through data breaches, social media or even the black market. All they need is a little bit more to piece together various pieces to hack your bank accounts.
If you’ve been on social media, you might have noticed there are bots or fake accounts claiming that a celebrity or entrepreneur is offering money in exchange for cryptocurrency.
They might even impersonate someone famous like Elon Musk, proposing a Bitcoin “giveaway.” Of course, later on, the victim would realise that he or she just gave away valuable cryptocurrency to criminals.
Look out for the “verified” mark on social media, don’t get overexcited if you read that Bill Gates is offering to give you money!
The oldest trick in the book of scams is a classic love scam. These scams usually occur through online dating with the scammer claiming to be a cryptocurrency broker who has earned big with Bitcoin. They’ll try to convince the victim to do the same, with their own help, which is a lie of course.
Always be vary about discussing your financial status and money matters with people you met over the internet. It is dangerous to place too much emotional attachment to someone you can’t put a real life face to. After all, even people you’ve physically met could be taking advantage of you, so always be cautious with your finances.
An investor from Michigan, USA, put USD 100,000 into a cryptocurrency mining plan. He expected to earn a return of 2% a week, but the company who pitched the scheme to him ultimately received a cease and desist letter from the state.
The truth was that the company was never licensed to conduct business in Michigan. Do not be blinded by enticing promises that you forget to thoroughly check who you’re actually working with.
What to Spot?
Cryptocurrency scams share a lot of similarities with investment scams. Below are red flags the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the USA suggests to look out for: –
- Scammers guarantee that you’ll make money. If they promise huge profits, it’s a scam. Endorsements and profiles of famous people can be faked easily so do not be fooled.
- Scammers promise big payouts with guaranteed returns. Nobody can guarantee a set return like double or triple your money, certainly not in a short time.
- Scammers promise free money. Free money sounds like a dream, because that is what it is, whether it’s cryptocurrency or cash.
Scammers make big claims without details or explanations. If someone is pitching to you a plan that promises big returns but they can’t explain how, take a step back. Alternatively, if you don’t understand how a plan works, don’t throw yourself in until you do enough research on the pitchers, the company they represent and verify their claims.
What To Know About Cryptocurrency and Scams – Federal Trade Commission (USA)