With Valentine’s Day just a day away, the FBI has warned about Romance scams involving cryptocurrency.
A romance scam involves creating a fake account and convincing an unwary victim to send funds of some kind in the hope of getting romantic with the scammer. Unsurprisingly, the FBI is concerned about cryptocurrency payments seeping into the romance-scam ecosystem.
According to the FBI, victims in their San Francisco jurisdiction alone lost a full $64 million to scams in 2021 – up from just $35 million in 2020.
In an official warning, the FBI said:
“[The FBI] has seen a rising trend in which romance scammers are persuading individuals to send money to invest or trade cryptocurrency”.
Being in its infancy, the crypto space is rife with scams. This Valentine’s Day will be no different so you must exercise care when executing any cryptocurrency transactions.
Last year alone, intelligence and security services registered 742 complaints topping 720 and 536 in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
How does a cryptocurrency Romance scam work?
A typical scam starts by gaining the trust of the victims who are then redirected to fraudulent or phishing platforms. To make it believable, the scammer will try to lure you into the trap by letting you have initial profits. This serves as a stepping stone in the scheme to have you invest more in the “opportunity of a lifetime”!
When you refuse to invest any further, they’d stop responding in which case, the FBI recommends, you contact your bank and report the activity about your funds. Common sense and the FBI tips entail:
- Not taking investment advice from strangers on the internet.
- Staying away from promises of unrealistic promises.
- Be cautious of individuals who claim to have an exclusive or lucrative investment opportunity that requires you to act fast.
SMS phishing scam
CZ, CEO of Binance warned of the massive SMS phishing scam going rampant during Valentine’s Day week and targeting its users.
Here the scam involves sending customers a text message on how to cancel their withdrawals. The message banks on your fear of losing cryptocurrency so you immediately click the link in it to prevent the withdrawal. In your haste, you’re redirected to a fake website that’s designed to harvest your login credentials.
Changpeng Zhao, thus, recommends manually typing Binance URL in your browser to counter the ongoing scam tactic.