AARP warns of crypto scams

Published 8:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

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Here’s a New Year’s Resolution we could all benefit from: be vigilant about cryptocurrency scams. Fraud involving crypto investment schemes and crypto as payment in other schemes skyrocketed in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Reported losses exceeded $1 billion.

Last year, an online romance scam turned into crypto “investment opportunities” – starting on such platforms as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn in addition to dating sites and apps. The target can see their assets gaining value as they continue to invest more money, only the crypto exchange they are on is fake. When they try cashing out, they’re told they must first pay excessive fees, and they don’t get their money back.

In the ‘crypto as payment’ schemes, criminals convince targets that some urgent matter requires quick payment and direct them to a nearby crypto-ATM machine that converts cash into electronic currency. These losses are virtually unrecoverable.

The best way to avoid these scams – really any scam – is to know about them so you can avoid engaging from the start. Seek a financial advisor’s guidance on investing, and anyone pressuring you to pay by crypto to address an urgent or time-sensitive matter is a criminal.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at fraudwatchnetwork.