FBI warns of rise in crypto-romance scams during Valentine’s Day week

With Valentine’s Day just days away, cybercriminals are targeting individuals under the guise of romance, but with a new twist involving cryptocurrencies. The US law enforcement agency Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning against the rise of romance scams during Valentine’s Day week, with the latest trend involving your digital assets.

For the uninitiated, a romance scam usually involves setting up fake accounts and convincing a potential victim to invest or transfer funds in cryptocurrency under the guise of getting romantic.

Here’s how this scam typically works. The scammer creates a fake identity and tries to gain the victim’s trust, usually by talking about relevant topics. This is called social engineering. Once the trust is gained, the scammer then directs the victim to a scam website or a request for an investment opportunity, in this case a cryptocurrency investment opportunity.

The scammer then asks the victim to register on a malicious cryptocurrency exchange. Once the victim invests an initial amount on the platform and sees a supposed profit, the scammers allow the victim to withdraw a small amount of money. Eventually, the scammer orders the victim to invest a larger amount.

When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the scammers create reasons why this cannot happen. The victim is informed that additional taxes or fees must be paid, or that the minimum account balance has not been reached to allow a withdrawal.

Sometimes a “customer service group” is involved, which is also part of the scam. Ultimately, victims cannot withdraw money and scammers most often stop communicating with the victim after they stop sending additional funds.

Tips to protect yourself

#Don’t invest on the advice of someone you’ve only met online.
# Do not disclose your financial situation to unknown and unreliable people.
#Do not provide your banking information, copies of your ID or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site that you don’t know is legit.
#If an online investing or trading site promotes amazing profits, chances are—amazing.
#Beware of people who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act quickly.

About Joan Dow

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