Welcome to the Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Build a digital defense against cryptocurrency investment scams.
Cryptocurrency itself is perfectly legal to buy and use in the U.S. In fact, many mainstream businesses are now accepting cryptocurrency for goods and services. What we are seeing, however, is an increase in the number of bad actors using old-fashioned scams to steal this new-style virtual asset.
Over the past few months, more and more people have reported to us that they are losing between hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment scams. Here are some scenarios:
You see the value of cryptocurrencies rise and decide you want to invest, but you don’t know how. You find an online “trader” who offers to exchange your money for the brand of crypto you want to buy. He says you just have to pay a commission. When you see the value go up, you try to withdraw the funds… but your “trader” demands another commission or simply stops answering all of you together.
In another scenario, someone approaches you posing as a currency investor. He says he’ll help you get started, but instead of transferring your initial investment to a legitimate trading account, he sends you the link to his own digital wallet. You have just transferred your money to his personal account. It demands an even bigger payout if you ever want to see your initial “investment”.
In a third scenario, the investor performs a Ponzi scheme. You regularly receive reports of insanely high returns and growing wealth. You might even get a partial payment on occasion, but there are always more requests for loans or additional investments. There are often promises of payments in a few weeks or months, but in the end you end up losing almost everything.
How to protect yourself:
- Do your research. Look for reliable sources to explain what cryptocurrency is, how to buy it, how to trade it, and how to use it.
- Do not respond to unsolicited offers or click on any links you may receive via email, text, or social media.
- Never share your private wallet key with anyone. This key is all that stands between you and someone who is trying to take your money.
It is important to understand that if you lose funds due to a cryptocurrency investment scam, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get your funds back.
If you believe you have been the victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaints Center at the following address:www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.