DENVER – The number of people falling for crypto scams is increasing 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 getting caught in these scams, which typically involve Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC).
The FBI Denver is now warning Colorado citizens about how these scams typically play out. It said the scammer usually approaches the victim on social media, dating apps or discussion forums. The scammer says he has an opportunity to invest in cryptocurrencies — often with “zero risk” and ways to “make a lot of money” — and asks the victim for a link or phone number, which they falsely say is for setting up an investment account. After the victim transfers the funds, the fraudster disappears with the money.
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In Colorado, investigators said they’re seeing two main tactics: One is for a fake investment manager to approach you with the promise of growing your money, but only if you buy cryptocurrency and transfer it to their online account. Another is an online love interest that asks for money or cryptocurrency to help you invest.
In 2021, Coloradans reported losing about $25 million to these types of scams. The FBI said that includes:
- 52-year-old Aurora man lost approximately $600,000 in Tether investment fraud scheme
- A 61-year-old Denver woman lost approximately $1.3 million in a Tether investment fraud scheme
- 62-year-old Evergreen man loses approximately $350,000 in Tether investment fraud scheme
- A Parker couple in their late 40s lost roughly $1.2 million in a fraudulent Tether investment scheme
- 53-year-old Timnath man loses approximately $600,000 in USD Coin investment fraud scheme
Of all the money lost in crypto scams across the country, $575 million comes from fake investment opportunities. Losses in 2021 were about 60 times higher than in 2018, according to the FBI.
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“The more people use and invest in cryptocurrencies, the more crypto scams we see,” said Special Agent Mark Michalek. “The FBI will investigate allegations of crypto fraud, but the best course of action is not to become a victim. FBI Denver wants people to be aware of the warning signs and be wary of the ways scammers are trying to lure them in.”
FBI Denver offers the following tips to protect yourself from these scammers:
- Scammers guarantee that you will make money or promise big payouts with guaranteed returns
- If a company or person promises that you will make a profit, it is a scam. If an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be careful with get-rich-quick schemes
- Scammers make big claims without detail or explanation
- Before investing in cryptocurrencies, search the Internet for the name of the company or person and the name of the cryptocurrency, plus words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.”
- Navigate any website on your own, instead of using a provided link or QR code
- If you’re prompted to use a new app, download it from your usual app store, not from the link provided
- If you correspond 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 force you to make a hasty decision
If you believe you have been the victim of a crypto scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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