The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States has issued a warning about the growing number of crypto frauds in the country. Scammers are forcing unsuspecting people to utilize physical bitcoin ATMs and digital QR codes to execute fraudulent transactions, according to a recent FBI Public Service Announcement (PSA). Even though the United States is still striving to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, Bitcoin ATMs are beginning to appear in public areas in the United States and other nations. Transacting using QR Codes is becoming more common in the United States, with businesses like AMC Theatres allowing crypto purchases for tickets.
The federal agency has cautioned individuals not to accept crypto-payment demands from unknown callers, as well as not to give out any personal information over the phone.
Schemes including online impersonations of government authorities, romance cons, and lottery scams have all been used by malicious crypto-scammers to prey on the unwary.
“The fraudster frequently demands payment from the victim and may instruct the victim to withdraw funds from his or her bank accounts, such as investment or retirement accounts.”
“During the transaction, the fraudsters supply the victim with a QR code connected with the scammer’s bitcoin wallet,” the FBI noted in its warning. “The victim is then directed to an actual bitcoin ATM to input their money, purchase cryptocurrency, and utilise the given QR code to auto-populate the recipient address,” says the fraudster.
Crypto owners should also avoid utilizing ATMs that promote “anonymity” and only accept transactions based on phone numbers and email addresses.
“These bitcoin ATMs might be in violation of US federal rules, allowing money laundering to take place.”
The FBI highlighted that “instructions to utilise bitcoin ATMs with these unique characteristics are a strong signal of fraud.”
Bitcoin ATMs are becoming more common in the United States and other countries as usage grows. Walmart said in October that 200 Bitcoin ATMs would be installed in select retail locations around the United States, allowing customers to purchase the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin ATMs, for example, allow consumers in El Salvador to deal in the crypto token or convert it to fiat currency.
Scammers, according to the FBI, aim to maintain all contact online to hide their true identities while leading their victims to step by step through their fraud
People should not send money to strangers, even if they claim to be government officials or parliamentarians, according to the federal investigative agency.
According to the PSA, “these entities are unlikely to urge you to transfer payments, send cheques, move money overseas, or make deposits into the accounts of unknown persons.”
Because cryptocurrencies are decentralized, it is difficult to reclaim the funds that have been locked up in them. Scammers get their cryptocurrency payments quickly and move the funds into other accounts, generally offshore. The victim is just left with financial losses.
According to research released in April, total crypto crimes in 2020 will be worth over $10.52 billion (around Rs. 79,194 crores).
According to the same analysis, scams and frauds, which have plagued the crypto industry, are a considerable concern, accounting for 67.8% of all bitcoin crimes in 2020.