“Scammers follow the headlines, just like you and I,” Amy Nofziger, director of victim support for AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, told Yahoo Finance Live recently (video above). “What things to watch out for are guarantees on your money. Crypto is a very volatile investment. … No one can guarantee your money.”
Nearly 6,800 consumers reported more than $80 million in cryptocurrency investment scam losses from October to March, in line with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), marking a more than ten-fold year-over-year increase. The median loss was $1,900.
Investors can protect themselves if they watch out for a few warning signs.
‘100% a scam. Do not trust them.’
First, based on Nofziger, be wary of anyone asking you to pay for by way of a crypto ATM, which may be found at grocery stores in addition to other common retail locations.
“The next time you’re at the local supermarket, research by the client service counter, and you will discover a crypto ATM,” she said. “And the scammers know this, and they’ll make sure to help you discover the closest anyone to you.
Furthermore, always inspect the crypto website you’re visiting. Double-check the spelling of the website name in the URL, and don’t just assume the first search result for a crypto website is credible.
“We realize scammers can provide fake websites in the try to confuse you, so you believe you’re on the legitimate website, but it’s maybe one word or even a letter off,” she said. “And you’re just giving all your personal information to the criminal.”
If you’re dealing with an unfamiliar website, Nofziger advised, you can cross-check the company with the Better Business Bureau or type the name of the company into a research engine combined with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaints” to learn what other consumers familiar with the company.
Lastly, never trust anyone you meet on social media marketing who claims to be always a crypto or bitcoin trader or investor.
“Often, when you meet someone online, you ask, ‘Well, what do you do for an income? And what’re your hobbies?’ And you realize, they’ll mention, ‘Oh, I’m an extremely successful Bitcoin trader,’ ” Nofziger said. “100% a scam, do not trust them.”
Several forms of claims of legitimacy may be suspect: The FTC notes that the common scam involves “a promise that the celebrity associated with cryptocurrency will multiply any cryptocurrency you send for their wallet and send it back.” (Scammers impersonating Tesla CEO and crypto enthusiast Elon Musk stole more than $2 million in less than a year.)
If you find yourself prey to a cryptocurrency scam, here’s what you should do.
First, stop any communication together with your suspected scammer. If that person uses your passwords for social media marketing or bank accounts, change them immediately. Seek assistance from your bank if you run into trouble.
Second, documents around you can be using emails, other communications, or screenshots of fake websites.
Lastly, report the fraud. The very best places to go based on Nofziger are the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), or the FTC. You may also lodge a local police report. If you’re working by way of fair exchange, you may also report it there.
“Many people believe reporting isn’t important,” Nofziger said. “But I do believe it’s essential to report anytime that you will be up against a crypto scam.”