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Bitcoin scams are like a box of chocolates. You never know what kind you’re going to get.
While the brashest crypto scams end up in the headlines, like the case of a Las Vegas poker player who pilfered $500,000 from another card shark, most shakedowns are more prosaic. Think of schemes that use threatening phone calls, a desperate plea for money or a demand to transfer sums of cash or else.
Whatever form it takes, there’s no denying that cryptocurrency fraud is on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 7,000 reports of crypto theft, with a combined value of more than $80 million, between October 2020 and March 2021. That’s a 12-fold increase in cases and a 1,000% jump in cash amount compared to the same period a year prior.
When it comes to Bitcoin fraud, the strengths of cryptocurrency are turned against the victims.
“Bitcoin-related scams track with other criminal exploits online until you try to recover your assets,” said cybersecurity expert Adam Levin. “Cryptocurrency is designed to be hard to track and even more difficult to recapture. Once transferred, it’s gone, with a few very high-level exceptions.”
While the number of Bitcoin transactions has remained static in recent years, the value of cryptocurrency has surged. One Bitcoin was worth $9,000 in April 2020 compared to roughly $43,000 now.
Here are the Bitcoin scams that you should be on the lookout to avoid.
Bitcoin Fraud and Imposters
In the poker scam mentioned above, the perp allegedly posed as the victim’s business partner on the encrypted text app, Telegram. The faux partner wanted to exchange $500,000 worth of Bitcoin, plus a $50,000 fee, for cash. The victim sent the Bitcoin, but never got the cash. When he reached out to his real associate by other means, the associate had no clue what was going on.
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