The number of people victimized by cryptocurrency scams is on the rise along with the financial losses of victims, according to the FBI.
In one case, a 61-year-old Denver woman lost about $1.3 million in a Tether investment fraud scheme, according to an FBI Denver office news release.
“Investigators out of the Denver office are seeing an emerging trend in which mature adults are caught up in crypto investment scams, especially involving Tether and USD Coin,” the release said.
In 2021, Coloradans reported losing about $25 million to investment scams, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Coloradans age 60 and older lost more money to scams than any other age group, according to the release.
Common scams unfold when the victim is approached on a social media platform, dating app or discussion forum with a cryptocurrency investment opportunity; and the victim is directed to a link or phone number to set up the investment account, the FBI said. As part of the scam, “the link or phone number is controlled by the fraudster, who has set up a fictitious support site. Once the victim transfers the funds, the fraudster disappears with the money.”
Nationwide since 2021, $575 million of all crypto fraud losses reported to the Federal Trade Commission were about bogus investment opportunities, the news release said. More than 46,000 people have reported losing over $1 billion in crypto scams. Reported losses in 2021 were nearly 60 times what they were in 2018.
Another Colorado scam involved a Parker couple in their late 40s who lost $1.2 million in a Tether investment fraud.
“As more people use and invest in cryptocurrency, the more crypto scams we see,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek. “The FBI will investigate allegations of crypto scams, but the best path is not to fall victim in the first place. FBI Denver wants people to be aware of the warning signs and be alert to the ways fraudsters try to reel them in.”
Measures people can take to avoid being victimized, according to the FBI, include searching online for the name of the company or the person making the pitch. The search terms can include connected words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.” Investors should navigate to websites independently, rather than using a provided link or QR code.
People who suspect that they’ve been victimized are urged to file a complaint with the FBI online at www.ic3.gov.