Six crypto accounts involved in the scam have been confiscated by the Department of Justice, and will be returned to the victims at a later stage. The FBI warned last month of an increase in crypto scams: “No place is beyond the reach of the FBI”
The US Department of Justice has seized six crypto accounts involved in a scam to compensate customers $112 million. Yesterday (Tuesday) the US Department of Justice seized six virtual currency accounts containing over $112 million in money stolen in cryptocurrency investment schemes. Judges in the Central District of California, the District of Arizona and the District of Idaho approved the operation. According to the Department of Justice, the next step is returning the stolen crypto-currencies to the victims.
The criminals behind the cryptocurrency scam approach their victims through various dating platforms, messaging apps or social media platforms, they build trust and then present them with investment schemes. All the funds that the victims provide to the crypto accounts, they transfer to the accounts under their control instead of investing them as they promised, thus emptying the crypto wallets of the victims.
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“These vicious scams, in which the fraudsters cultivate relationships with their victims over time, have destroyed families and robbed them of life savings,” said the Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. “Now that we have taken control of the virtual currency accounts, we want to return it as quickly as possible to the victims.”
The FBI revealed in its 2022 Cybercrime Report that Americans lost over $3 billion to investment fraud last year. “Investment fraud complaints increased from $1.45 billion in 2021 to $3.31 billion in 2022. This is a 127% increase,” the FBI reported. Among these complaints, cryptocurrency investment fraud rose from $907 million in 2021 to $2.57 billion in 2022, an increase of 183%.”
The FBI warned in a public service announcement last month of a rise in fraudulent crypto-investment schemes resulting in cryptocurrency losses of more than $2 billion by 2022, according to U.S. reports. These scams have become increasingly sophisticated, and are now using In psychological manipulations to encourage the victims to invest more and demand fees or taxes from them if they try to withdraw their money.
The FBI warning about crypto investment scams is not the first warning. In October, the law enforcement agency also warned of an increase in scams that are stealing increasing amounts of cryptocurrency from unsuspecting investors. Previous FBI alerts have warned of fraudsters using fraudulent cryptocurrency investment apps and fake so-called “play-to-earn” rewards, stealing millions from cryptocurrency investors.
“These financial scams demonstrate the great lengths criminals go to to defraud the innocent. We continue to see these schemes evolve and provide new ways for criminals to operate,” added the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division. “Today’s announcement should serve as a reminder of the FBI’s commitment, alongside our federal and international law enforcement partners, to investigate and pursue criminal elements who seek to defraud the American public. There is no place that is beyond the reach of the FBI.”