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Crypto Scammers Stole Over $2 Billion from Unsuspecting Victims in 2022, FBI Warns


March 15, 2023

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Crypto Scammers Stole Over $2 Billion from Unsuspecting Victims in 2022, FBI Warns

The FBI has issued a public service announcement warning Americans that crypto scams are on the rise, inflicting more than $2 billion in losses in 2022.

Cryptocurrency investment schemes, colloquially known as pig-butchering, are based on social engineering and a false sense of trust. They usually begin with a romance or confidence scam and evolve into cryptocurrency investment fraud, said the Bureau.

Criminals defrauded victims of more than $2 billion US dollars in 2022 using these schemes, acting mostly from abroad, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

“Criminals use fictitious identities to develop relationships and build rapport with victims,” reads the notice. “Criminals target victims using dating applications (apps), social media platforms, professional networking sites, or encrypted messaging apps.”

The threat actors typically claim to have expertise or an affiliation with experts in crypto investments and lure victims into using fraudulent websites or apps they control.

“Criminals coach victims through the investment process, show them fake profits, and encourage victims to invest more,” according to the notice. “When victims attempt to withdraw their money, they are told they need to pay a fee or taxes. Victims are unable to get their money back, even if they pay the imposed fees or taxes.”

While the scheme is not new, the FBI says the practice has evolved to include liquidity mining, where scammers persuade victims to link their cryptocurrency wallet to a fraudulent liquidity mining application.

Fraudsters are also adopting play-to-earn schemes, where victims are introduced to an online game in which players purportedly earn cryptocurrency rewards in exchange for an activity, such as growing “crops” on an animated farm.

The notice includes a few helpful tips to help citizens steer clear of crypto scams, including:

·      If an unknown individual contacts you, do not release any financial or personal identifying information (PII) and do not send any money

·      Do not invest per the advice of someone you meet solely online

·      Confirm the validity of any investment opportunity or cryptocurrency investment website or app

·      If you already invested funds and believe you are a victim of a scheme, do not pay any additional fees or taxes to withdraw your money

·      Do not pay for services that claim to be able to recover lost funds

The agency instructs anyone who may have fallen victim to open a case with the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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