The FBI just sent a shout-out to cryptocurrency investors and consumers, warning about a surge in tech support scams.
The scammers are pretending to be security, customer and technical support reps offering help and services, with the real goal of accessing accounts and stealing funds. One of the top ways these criminals lure their victims is by placing ads on search engines that appear above the search results. Phishing emails are another method. They typically contain false warnings about account issues along with a phone number to call or a hyperlink to click.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center:
The fraudulent support asks for access to the victim’s virtual currency wallet and transfers the victim’s virtual currency to another wallet for temporary holding during maintenance. The virtual currency is never returned to the victim, and the criminal ceases all communication.
Criminals who have access to a victim’s electronic device use the victim’s personal information and credit card to purchase and transfer virtual currency to an account controlled by the criminal.
In 2017, investigators received roughly 11,000 complaints related to tech support fraud. Those claims added up to almost $15 million in stolen funds or an 86% increase over the previous year.
How to Dodge Cryptocurrency Scammers
• The vast majority of cryptocurrency exchange support teams will never contact you unless you contact them first, so be weary of any unsolicited phone calls or emails.
• Pay extra attention when using a search engine to locate email addresses and phone numbers for cryptocurrency exchanges and services.
• When you visit a crypto exchange, make sure the URL is secure and spelled correctly.
• Never give anyone passwords, 2FA codes or remote access to your device.
• Make sure your antivirus and malware protection apps are up and running.
If you think you might have accidentally contacted a scammer, you can reach the FBI by filing a complaint.