The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) believes that there will be a steep rise in the number of scams related to cryptocurrencies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Warnings from the authority
In an April 13 press release, the FBI said that fraudulent schemes related to cryptocurrencies will increase as more people start using cryptocurrencies. It said that the senior citizens are particularly at risk because of crypto but people of any age could be duped and victimized by fraudsters.
The FBI wrote,
“There are not only numerous virtual asset service providers online but also thousands of cryptocurrency kiosks located throughout the world which are exploited by criminals to facilitate their schemes. Many traditional financial crimes and money laundering schemes are now orchestrated via cryptocurrencies.”
The agency said that people should be wary of blackmailing attempts and work from home scams as well. They should also be aware of fake COVID-19 treatments or preventative measures from the coronavirus. Traditional investment scams are still available in plenty which could collectively make people lose their hard-earned money.
Fake letters and charities
The most common scam is to send a letter or an email that threatens to infect a person or their family member with the coronavirus if they don’t make a payment in Bitcoin. Some online scamsters also try to steal people’s cryptocurrencies by inviting them to participate in a fake charity. People may believe that they are sending Bitcoins to the World Health Organization (WHO) while the donations are actually being sent to fraudsters. As the COVID-19 pandemic is causing concerns around the globe, it has become the perfect weapon to steal crypto via fake charities.
The FBI suggests people verify that that the entities they are communicating with are legitimate and actually accept cryptocurrencies as donations. Even if they appear legitimate on all accounts, one must not give in to the pressure of using a virtual currency. Instead, it should be treated as a red flag.
Blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis published a similar warning on April 10. It published data suggesting that the average value of transactions received by wallets owned by known scammers increased by 30% during March only. This coincides with the number of fake emails and blackmailing incidents during this time.