Scammers masquerading as Elon Musk have stolen millions of dollars from U.S. consumers in cryptocurrency scams as online financial fraudsters seek to capitalize on the public interest to trade highly-rated cryptocurrencies. volatiles such as bitcoin.
Consumers lost more than $ 80 million in cryptocurrency scams between Oct. 1 and March 31, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission, which on Monday reported a “huge spike” in cryptocurrency. fraud.
Scammers posing as a cryptocurrency enthusiast and Tesla co-founder Musk were responsible for more than $ 2 million in losses.
The value lost to cryptocurrency investment scams has increased tenfold from the same period last year, according to the regulator. Over 7,000 scams were reported in the six-month period, 12 times more than the previous year.
Investors lost a median amount of $ 1,900 to the scams, which typically purported to offer investors advice or “secrets” to help them trade electronic currencies, the FTC said.
The regulator cited the “Wild West vibe” that surrounds cryptocurrency culture as one of the reasons for the increase in scams, as well as an “element of mystery” that has created fertile ground for scammers targeting young consumers who wanted to make a quick comeback.
The FTC report follows a sharp drop in the trading price of bitcoin, after Musk tweeted last week that the electric automaker will no longer accept cryptocurrency as payment for its vehicles, citing concerns about the environmental impact of the “mining” of the cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin traded at just under $ 44,000 on Monday, down about $ 20,000 from the record it hit just a month ago.
“The promises of huge, guaranteed returns are nothing but lies,” the regulator said, adding that the scammers had built sophisticated websites that made it appear that a consumer’s fictitious investment in cryptocurrency was increasing by value.
A common scam was to promise that a celebrity associated with cryptocurrencies would multiply a person’s purchase.
Young consumers who first began trading financial assets in record numbers at the start of the pandemic were particularly vulnerable to scams, the FTC found.
Consumers under 30 have lost more money to investment scams than any other type of fraud.