Unfortunately, cryptocurrency crime is on the rise. Cryptocurrency scams include:
Fake websites: Bogus sites which feature fake testimonials and crypto jargon promising massive, guaranteed returns, provided you keep investing.
Virtual Ponzi schemes: Cryptocurrency criminals promote non-existent opportunities to invest in digital currencies and create the illusion of huge returns by paying off old investors with new investors’ money. One scam operation, BitClub Network, raised more than $700 million before its perpetrators were indicted in December 2019.
“Celebrity” endorsements: Scammers pose online as billionaires or well-known names who promise to multiply your investment in a virtual currency but instead steal what you send. They may also use messaging apps or chat rooms to start rumours that a famous businessperson is backing a specific cryptocurrency. Once they have encouraged investors to buy and driven up the price, the scammers sell their stake, and the currency reduces in value.
Romance scams: The FBI warns of a trend in online dating scams, where tricksters persuade people they meet on dating apps or social media to invest or trade in virtual currencies. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre fielded more than 1,800 reports of crypto-focused romance scams in the first seven months of 2021, with losses reaching $133 million.
Otherwise, fraudsters may pose as legitimate virtual currency traders or set up bogus exchanges to trick people into giving them money. Another crypto scam involves fraudulent sales pitches for individual retirement accounts in cryptocurrencies. Then there is straightforward cryptocurrency hacking, where criminals break into the digital wallets where people store their virtual currency to steal it.