$2.5 billion stolen from US victims via crypto investment scams in 2022: FBI report
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that Americans parted with over $10 billion last year due to online fraud.
Perpetrators 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. The stole nearly $2.6 billion from US consumers using investment schemes linked to bitcoin and other digital assets. In contrast, such fraud resulted in “only” $907 million in 2021.
“Crypto investment scams saw unprecedented increases in the number of victims and dollar losses to these investors. Many victims have taken on massive debt to cover losses from these fraudulent investments,” the FBI report said.
The agency revealed that the most targeted group is people aged 30 to 49. Previous studies have shown that such individuals are quite active in the crypto field, while older investors have yet to embrace the asset class.
The FBI outlined the most common ways crypto scammers target victims. They often trick people into connecting their wallet to a fraudulent liquidity mining application and thereby steal their money or hack their social media accounts.
Celebrity impersonation is also a popular method: offenders stream a video of a dubious investment scheme and post the face of a famous person to make their project appear legitimate. Needless to say, the celebrities have not given permission to appear in the ad, while victims who fall for the scam often lose their money.
Next, crypto scammers sometimes pretend to be real estate agents or employers of a company that offers investment advice. However, instead of providing valuable guidance, they try to steal as much from the targets as possible.
Romance Crypto scams also became very popular
An investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). revealed that such scams hit thousands of Americans between January 2021 and March 2022, resulting in $185 million being taken from them.
Mistakes often pick on lonely people by pretending to be in love with them. Once they’ve gained their trust, they encourage them to invest in a mysterious cryptocurrency project, lying that the substantial profits could fund a potential wedding or romantic vacation.
“Victims of romance scams learn that the heart isn’t so smart the hard way. Their search for love makes it easy for them to find individuals who cheat them out of their money. They pull off an elaborate ruse that tricks their victims into swoon over them, and by the time the victim catches on, they’ll be thousands of dollars poorer,” Bankless Times explained.
This type of scam seems to be quite popular in the UK. A British man whose name was not disclosed lost Bitcoin worth $200,000 last year after chatting online with a woman named Jia. The latter advised him to allocate the assets in a suspicious app, assuring him that the earnings would be large. Shortly after doing so, the man saw his balance “clear” as the woman stopped contacting him.
A British pensioner living in Nottinghamshire divorced with $207,000 this year after falling victim to a similar scam. She fell in love with a person posing as a US Army surgeon who asked her to transfer money to a specific bitcoin wallet. Her bank and the local police restored more than half of the sum.