A new threat to crypto users has appeared, and FBI is warning investors to keep an eye on suspicious activity. The agency has published a document to make citizens aware of this new scam where hackers are posing as tech support staff from exchanges and other companies to divulge personal information or to hijack their accounts.
The IC3 division of the agency has reported that the number of such frauds has increased by a whopping 86% in 2017. Per the warning document, criminals claim “to provide customer, security, or technical support in an effort to defraud unwitting individuals.” The agency also claims that the losses for the past year have estimated to a combined $15 million. Majority of the victims are located in the United States. However, the agency has received such complaints from at least 85 other countries.
FBI has provided a detailed report of these complaints in the document. It says. “Criminals may pose as a security, customer, or technical support representative offering to resolve such issues as a compromised e-mail or bank account, a virus on a computer, or to assist with a software license renewal. Some recent complaints involve criminals posing as technical support representatives for GPS, printer, or cable companies, or support for virtual currency exchangers.”
“As this type of fraud has become more commonplace, criminals have started to pose as government agents, even offering to recover supposed losses related to tech support fraud schemes or to request financial assistance with “apprehending” criminals,” added the agency.
Authentic looking calls are causing frauds
The FBI says the victims often believe that the calls are authentic. It is because hackers pose very authentically. When the hackers pose as virtual currency exchange support staff, they ask for the victim’s wallet address and then use it to transfer virtual currency to another wallet. It is usually done, as they suggest, to hold the currency temporarily so that it can be transferred back when their wallet issues are resolved. Communication is ceased soon after, and the money is never returned.
However, it is not necessary for the criminals to ask your wallet address. They sometimes present themselves as tech support staff for your phone, get your device’s identity and your credit card number. They then use this information to buy cryptocurrency and transfer it to their wallets. The customer may not be aware of the fraud unless he receives a bill or an alert regarding the same.
To combat the increasing number of cryptocurrency frauds, the FBI has asked social networking sites to stop showing crypto ads altogether. Jason Roy from Canada’s Binary Options Task Force and US authorities have been talking to companies like Facebook and Google to ban crypto ads completely. Following suit, Facebook has banned all ads related to blockchains, ICOs, and cryptocurrencies. Google has also adopted a similar policy which will go into full force in June.
Meanwhile, Twitter and LinkedIn have revoked support for ads and email marketing service provider MailChimp has also stopped crypto-related companies for using their services.