Just days before Valentine’s Day, cybercriminals are targeting individuals under the guise of romance, but with a new cryptocurrency twist. The US law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), issued a warning against the rise of romance scams during Valentine’s week, and the latest trend involves your digital assets.
For the uninitiated, a romance scam usually involves creating fake accounts and convincing a potential victim to invest or transfer cryptocurrency funds under the guise of getting romantic.
This is how this scam usually works. The scammer creates a false identity and tries to gain the victim’s trust, usually by talking about related topics. This is called social engineering. Once trust is gained, the scammer directs the victim to a fraudulent website or app for an investment opportunity, in this case a cryptocurrency investment opportunity.
The scammer then asks the victim to sign up with a malicious cryptocurrency exchange. After the victim has invested 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 instructs 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 was not reached to allow a withdrawal.
Sometimes a “customer service group” is involved, which is also part of the scam. Victims are ultimately unable to withdraw money, and scammers often stop contacting 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 reveal your financial status to unknown and untrustworthy people.
#Don’t give out your bank information, copies of your ID or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site you don’t know is legitimate.
#If an online trading or investing site is promoting unbelievable profits, chances are it is unbelievable.
#Beware of people who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act quickly.