FBI says scammers are posing as cryptocurrency support staff
The FBI is warning consumers when seeking technical support as would-be scammers are posing as customer service representatives in an attempt to defraud unwilling individuals, including those needing assistance and support with cryptocurrency.
The scam, known as Tech Support Fraud, was rampant in 2017.
According to the FBI’s public service announcement, in 2017, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received approximately 11,00 complaints related to tech support fraud with losses totaling nearly $15 million. That represents an 86 percent increase in losses from 2016.
The majority of the complaints came from the U.S. but IC3 did receive complaints from victims in 85 different countries.
As it relates to cryptocurrency, individuals are contacting fraudulent cryptocurrency support numbers that are found through open source searches. The scammer asks for access to the victim’s cryptocurrency wallet and proceeds to transfer the victim’s digital currency to another wallet on a temporary basis while performing maintenance.
The scammer then proceeds to keep all the cryptocurrency and ceases all communication with the individual.
The FBI recommends individuals be cautious of customer support numbers attained through online searches. It adds that “phone numbers listed in a ‘sponsored’ results section are likely boosted as a result of Search Engine Advertising.”
Individuals who believe they may be a victim of a cryptocurrency scam are advised to file a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov. To file a cryptocurrency scam complaint, the FBI recommends being as descriptive as possible including identifying information about the criminal and company and a description of the interaction with the scammer.
As cryptocurrency becomes more prevalent in the mainstream, the rise in these types of scams is sure to follow.