DENVER — The number of people who fall for crypto scams is on the rise as more people start using cryptocurrencies, according to a warning from the Denver Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators in Denver said they are seeing a trend of adults being caught up in these scams, which typically involve Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC).
FBI Denver is now warning Coloradans about how these scams usually play out. It said that the scammer typically approaches a victim on social media, dating apps or discussion forums. The scammer says they have a cryptocurrency investment opportunity — often with “zero risk” and ways to “make lots of money” — and asks the victim for a link or phone number, which they falsely say is to set up the investment account. Once the victim transfers the funds, the fraudster disappears with that money.
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In Colorado, investigators said they are seeing two main tactics: One is that a fake investment manager contacts you with a promise to grow your money, but only if you buy cryptocurrency and transfer it into their online account. The second is an online love interest asking for money or cryptocurrency to help you invest.
In 2021, Coloradans reported losing about $25 million in these types of scams. The FBI said this includes:
- A 52-year-old Aurora man lost approximately $600,000 in a Tether investment fraud scheme
- A 61-year-old Denver woman female lost approximately $1.3 million in a Tether investment fraud scheme
- A 62-year-old Evergreen man lost approximately $350,000 in a Tether investment fraud scheme
- A couple from Parker in their late 40s lost approximately $ 1.2 million in a Tether investment fraud scheme
- A 53-year-old Timnath man lost approximately $600,000 in a USD Coin investment fraud scheme
Of all the money lost in crypto scams across the country, $575 million stemmed from fake investment opportunities. The losses in 2021 were about 60 times what they were in 2018, according to the FBI.
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“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.”
FBI Denver offers the following tips to protect yourself from these scammers:
- Scammers guarantee that you’ll make money or promise big payouts with guaranteed returns
- If a company or person promises you’ll make a profit, that’s a scam. If an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Be cautious of get-rich-quick schemes
- Scammers make big claims without details or explanations
- Before you invest in crypto, search online for the name of the company or person and the cryptocurrency name, plus words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint”
- Navigate to any websites independently rather than using a provided link or QR code
- If you are asked to use a new app, download it via your usual app store, not from a provided link
- If you are emailing with a purported investment advisor, make sure the representative has a business email account
- Resist any pressure to act quickly. A legitimate advisor will not push you to make a hasty decision
If you believe you have fallen victim to a crypto scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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