The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning about the rise of romance scams in the San Francisco Bay Area with the latest cryptocurrency trend.
A few days before Valentine’s Day, the local FBI in San Francisco alerted the public to an increase in romance scams based on complaints submitted to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Romance scams involve creating fake accounts and persuading careless investors – both men and women – to transfer money under the pretext of romance. According to information provided by the FBI:
“Ore at the FBI compound in San Francisco lost more than $64 million in romantic hoaxes, up from $35 million in 2020.”
In 2021 alone, intelligence and security agencies registered 742 complaints in the Northern District of California, dwarfing the 720 and 526 complaints filed in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
In addition, IC3 received more than 23,000 credit and romance fraud complaints in 2020, with losses of more than $600 million. FBI warning text:
“The FBI in San Francisco has noticed a growing trend of scammers with love to persuade people to send money to invest or trade cryptocurrency.”
A typical romance scam begins with gaining the trust of victims, who are then redirected to scam platforms citing investment opportunities. While scammers allow investors to make some profits from the first trade to prove their credibility, victims are forced to invest more money or cryptocurrency:
“When the victim is ready to withdraw the money again, the scammers create reasons why this should not happen. The victim is informed that additional taxes or fees must be paid, or that the minimum account balance for withdrawals has not been reached.”
However, scammers usually stop responding after victims refuse to add funds. The FBI encourages victims of romantic relationships to report their activities and contact their banks.
Some tips recommended by the FBI to avoid romance scams include: don’t follow investment advice based solely on online interactions, don’t reveal financial information, shy away from promises of unrealistic returns, and be “wary” of people. who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and encourage you to trade quickly.”
Related: Scam Warning! Binance CEO Warns Users Against Bulk SMS Phishing
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, recently warned the crypto community about “massive” SMS phishing targeting Binance customers.
According to Cointelegraph, the scam involves sending users a text message with a link to cancel withdrawals, which leads users to a fake website designed to obtain their registration information. Zhao recommends manually entering the URL for cryptocurrency exchanges as a countermeasure against persistent scams.