Home News FBI warns against rising crypto romance scams during Valentine’s week

FBI warns against rising crypto romance scams during Valentine’s week

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The FBI has issued a warning about an increase in romance scams in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the most recent trend employing cryptocurrencies.

The FBI’s San Francisco field office warned the public about the spike in romantic scams only days before Valentine’s Day, citing complaints lodged with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). A romance scam is setting up bogus accounts and persuading unsuspecting investors — both men and women — to send money under the guise of getting intimate. The FBI has released the following information:

“Romance scam victims in the FBI’s San Francisco office lost more than $64 million in 2018, compared to just over $35 million in 2020.”

In the Northern District of California alone, the intelligence and security service received 742 complaints in 2021. Much outnumbering the 720 and 526 complaints received in 2020 and 2019.

Furthermore, in 2020, the IC3 received over 23,000 complaints involving confidence/romance frauds, resulting in claimed losses of over $600 million. The FBI issued the following cautionary statement:

“Romance scammers are enticing people to send money to invest or trade Bitcoin,” according to the FBI’s San Francisco office.

Fake platforms that claim to offer investment opportunities

A common romantic scam begins by winning the victims’ trust before redirecting them to fake platforms. That claim to offer investment opportunities. While the scammers allow investors to withdraw some earnings from the initial deal in order to establish credibility, the victims are compelled to deposit more money or cryptocurrency:

“When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the con artists fabricate reasons why this is impossible. The victim is advised that additional taxes or fees must be paid, or that the minimum account balance required to make a withdrawal has not been met.”

When the victims decline to add more money, the scammers usually cease responding. The FBI advises romance scam victims to report their activity and contact their banks.

To avoid romance scams, the FBI suggests not receiving investment advice from just online conversations. As well as not providing financial information, avoiding promises of unrealistic gains. In addition to being “wary of persons who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and push you to move quickly.”

“Large” SMS phishing scheme aimed at Binance consumers

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, has issued a warning to the crypto community about a “large” SMS phishing operation targeting Binance customers.

The fraud involves sending users a text message with a link to cancel withdrawals. Which leads them to a phoney website that harvests their login details, according to reports. To combat the continuous scams, Zhao advocates manually inputting the crypto exchange’s URL.

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