Wrongdoers drained $2.57 billion of that amount via cryptocurrency investment schemes.
Crypto Scams on the Rise
Despite the predominantly bearish year for the cryptocurrency industry, 2022 was fruitful for criminals. They stole nearly $2.6 billion from American consumers using investment schemes related to bitcoin and other digital assets. In contrast, such fraud resulted in “just” $907 million in 2021.
“Crypto investment scams saw unprecedented increases in the number of victims and the dollar losses to these investors. Many victims have assumed massive debt to cover losses from these fraudulent investments,” the FBI report reads.
The agency disclosed that the most targeted group is people aged 30 to 49. Previous studies have shown that such individuals are pretty active in the crypto field, while older investors have not yet embraced the asset class.
The FBI outlined the most common ways in which crypto scammers attack victims. They often lure people into linking their wallets to a fraudulent liquidity mining application and thus steal their funds or hack their social media accounts.
Celebrity impersonation is also a popular method: wrongdoers stream a video of a dubious investment scheme and post the face of a well-known individual to make their project seem legit. Needless to say, the celebrities have not given their permission to appear in the ad, while victims who join the fraud often lose their money.
Subsequently, crypto fraudsters sometimes pretend to be real estate professionals or employers of a company that offers investment advice. Instead of giving valuable guidance, though, they try to steal as much from the targets as possible.
Romance Crypto Fraud Also Became Highly Popular
A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) research revealed that such scams affected thousands of Americans between January 2021 and March 2022, resulting in $185 million siphoned from them.
Wrongdoers often pick lonely individuals by pretending they are in love with them. Once gaining their trust, they urge them to invest in a mysterious cryptocurrency project, lying that the significant profits could fund a potential wedding or a romantic holiday.
“Victims of romance scams learn that the heart is not so smart the hard way. Their search for love makes them easy pickings for conniving individuals that dupe them out of their money. They put on an elaborate con that has their victims swooning over them, and by the time the victim catches on, they’ll be several thousand dollars poor,” Bankless Times explained.
Such type of fraud seems to be quite popular in the United Kingdom. A British man whose name was not revealed lost $200,000 worth of bitcoin last year after chatting online with a woman called Jia. The latter advised him to allocate the assets in a suspicious app, assuring the proceeds would be great. Shortly after doing so, the man saw his balance “cleared” while the woman ceased contact with him.
A British pensioner living in Nottinghamshire parted with $207,000 this year after becoming a victim of a similar scam. She fell in love with a person who introduced himself as a US Army surgeon and who asked her to transfer money to a particular bitcoin wallet. Her bank and the local police restored more than half of the sum.
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