SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A new study released Thursday by the Better Business Bureau shows just how widespread scams involving digital currencies are spreading across the United States. Cryptocurrency scams are now the second-most reported scam to the bureau, behind only online shopping scams. The total amount of money stolen is also climbing, to nearly $1-billion.
Cryptocurrency scams have become a new version of the old gift card scam, only this time, the scammer asks you to pay in crypto, instead of a card.
“So, we’re starting to see old scams use crypto as a form of payment,” Better Business Bureau State Director Jessie Schmidt said.
Crypto is more attractive to scammers because digital currency transactions such as those involving Bitcoin, don’t go through banks or credit card companies and are next to impossible to trace, because there’s no paper trail.
“There’s really nothing we can do if somebody gives another person some cryptocurrency because there’s no way to get it back, there’s no way to find out where it goes, to find out where it’s redeemed,” Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
While law enforcement can’t help victims recover their money, Clemens says it’s still important for them to notify police so they can alert the public about this emerging scam in Sioux Falls.
“A couple of years ago, there was nothing. But now, the scams involving the cryptocurrency, they’re starting to uptick a little bit. We’re not seeing huge numbers, but we are seeing more of it,” Clemens said.
Crypto-crooks often try to lure victims on social media, even targeting lonely hearts. The Better Business Bureau study found that the number of romance fraud victims doubled last year.
“Our old romance scammers, you know how they would have you put money in a FedEx envelope and wire it to somebody else, well, gosh, Bitcoin is way easier for them to use,” Schmidt said.
Even if you know less than nothing about crypto, the scammer will stay on the line and talk you through the process of making a payment. That’s why potential victims need to hang up, right away.
A scammer will also use high-pressure tactics to try to convince you of the urgent need to pay up.
It’s also important to know that no government agency, like law enforcement, or utility companies will require you to make payments in cryptocurrency.