According to a recent media report, the FBI estimates that around 24,000 Americans lost nearly $1 billion to crypto scams in 2021. In the report by a local channel in Pittsburgh, PA, the FBI agent said that crypto had become quite popular in the region. The FBI agent noted that at the local convenience store, you could buy crypto at a Bitcoin ATM.
The Risk of Easy Access
According to an official at the Carson News and Lottery convenience store, it was like the wild west of crypto. Anyone could purchase crypto within a few minutes from one of the Bitcoin ATMs. However, that came with risks. He noted that victims could lose a few hundred dollars to a few million in an instant.
How Crypto Scams Work
According to the FBI, crypto scams work similarly to other scams. Most of them take the form of a get-rich-quick scheme, investment scams, lottery, scams, romance scams, and kidnapping scams. The FBI agent noted that with a romance scam, a victim could be asked to send funds internationally in seconds. When those funds were sent, they were gone forever. There was no trace of the transaction at a local bank where one could call and have it reversed.
Steps Taken by the FBI
According to the FBI agent, as the sector evolved, the FBI was seeking to evolve with it. For instance, the FBI recently launched the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit, whose focus will be to tackle crime involving cryptocurrencies. This unit will work closely with DoJ’s new National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, which will enhance its ability to track down crypto crimes.
According to FBI special agent Eric Yingling, no one would ever think of themselves as a victim of crypto scams. However, when victimized, it was important to report it since it could help the FBI do their job quicker and hold those responsible accountable.
How to Avoid Scammers
While it is true many scammers are operating in the crypto space, there are certain steps that individuals can take to avoid being scammed. These include checking the site URL and all hyperlinks to ensure you are using the genuine site and not a clone scam site.
Another step is to avoid sharing the crypto wallet’s private key, password, or seed phrase with anyone. Additionally, if anyone approaches you with an investment idea, especially on a dating app, they are probably trying to scam you. Finally, and one of the most important, is that you should never send any crypto to anyone for whatever reason if you meet them online.
In general, the crypto sector can be quite exciting due to the possibility of making a lot of money. However, always keep in mind that there is a possibility of being scammed. If you follow the few steps above, you should be relatively safe. One of the most important lessons to keep in mind is that, no matter how lucrative a crypto investment looks, you should never invest more than you can afford to lose. In short, if you have life savings or retirement benefits, those funds should not all be invested in crypto. Due to its high volatility, you could end up losing all your funds in an instant.
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