Our Fraud Department is seeing an uptick in scams involving cryptocurrency. We have seen that in some cases these fraudsters are pretending to be Embold employees in order to gain our members’ trust. They are trying to convince members to allow access to their digital banking or to send money to them directly.
Scammers are using some tried and true scam tactics—only now they’re demanding payment in cryptocurrency. Investment scams are one of the top ways scammers trick members into buying cryptocurrency and sending it on to scammers. But scammers are also impersonating businesses, government agencies, and a love interest, among other tactics.
How Does the Scam Work?
It works like this: someone might call pretending to be from the government, law enforcement, or a local utility company. Maybe a romantic interest whom you met online calls, or someone calls to say you’ve won the lottery or a prize. They’ll wind up asking you for money. If you believe the story that they tell and you seem willing to engage, they’ll stay on the phone and direct you to withdraw money from your bank, investment, or retirement accounts. They’ll then tell you to go to a store with a cryptocurrency ATM (and they’ll stay on the phone the whole time). Once you’re there, they’ll direct you to insert your money into the ATM and buy cryptocurrency. They’ll then send a QR code to you with their address embedded in it. Once you buy the cryptocurrency, they’ll have you scan the code so the money will get transferred to them. But then your money is gone.
How Do I Spot a Crypto-related Scam?
Here’s the main thing to know: nobody from the government, law enforcement, utility company, or prize promoter will ever tell you to pay them with cryptocurrency. If someone does, it’s a scam, every time. Any unexpected tweet, text, email, call, or social media message—particularly from someone you don’t know—asking you to pay them in advance for something, including with cryptocurrency, is a scam.
With that in mind, it’s important to recognize common red flag indicators associated with this type of fraud:
- Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency.
- Only scammers will guarantee profits or big returns.
- Never mix online dating and investment advice.
- No reputable company will ever request access to your computer, login information, or payment to get your “account back”.