Anatomy of a Cryptocurrency Investment Scam
The FBI outlines the eight steps that a cryptocurrency investment scam commonly follows:
1. The scammer’s initial contact is typically made via dating apps and other social media sites.
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2. The swindler gains the confidence and trust of the victim by establishing an online relationship and then claims to have knowledge of cryptocurrency investment or trading opportunities that will result in substantial profits.
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3. The con artist directs the victim to a fraudulent website or application for an investment opportunity.
4. After the victim has invested an initial amount on the platform and sees an alleged profit, the scammers allows the victim to withdraw a small amount of money, further gaining the victim’s trust.
5. After the successful withdrawal, the criminal instructs the victim to invest larger amounts of money and often expresses the need to “act fast.”
6. When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the scammers invents reasons as to why this cannot happen. The victim is informed that additional taxes or fees need to be paid, or the minimum account balance has not been met to allow a withdrawal.
7. This claim entices the victim to provide more funds. Sometimes a “customer service group” gets involved, which is also part of the scam.
8. Victims are not able to withdraw any money, and the scammers most often stops communicating with the victim after they cease to send additional funds.
Tips to protect yourself:
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- Never send money, trade or invest based on the advice of someone you have met solely online.
- Do not disclose your current financial status to unknown and untrusted individuals.
- Do not provide your banking information, Social Security number, copies of your identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site that you do not know is legitimate.
- If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely that — unbelievable.
- Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.