Anchorage woman warns of cryptocurrency investment scam
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Cryptocurrency scams have more than doubled in the past year, according to the Better Business Bureau, and an Anchorage woman is coming forward to warn other consumers.
“I lost everything,” said Sandy, whose name has been changed in this story due to her privacy concerns.
Cryptocurrency, which includes bitcoin, is a digital payment system that is not supported by traditional banks. Sandy said she recently lost thousands of dollars after being the victim of a cryptocurrency scam. Sandy’s ordeal began when a former colleague posted a message on Facebook. He claimed to have earned around $30,000 in a few hours mining cyber coins. After her experience and having spoken with various agencies to report the scam, Sandy now realizes how much scammers use social media as a tool.
“Sometimes the scammer will ask someone to make a video and try to get, recruit more people,” she said.
At the time, Sandy was curious and developed a certain confidence in cybercurrency. She decided it wouldn’t hurt to invest a small amount of money. That’s when her Facebook friend referred her to a counselor, who contacted her via an encrypted messaging app. The advisor told Sandy to invest his money in an online company called Best Currency Mining. She did some homework on the business, but she never spoke with anyone on the phone.
“There were mixed reviews, but nothing to say it was outright a scam,” Sandy said.
The company listed as bestcurrencymining.com struck Sandy as a legitimate online business, so she took a chance and invested $2,000.
“Within a few hours it went up to about $45,000,” Sandy said.
Within 24 hours, his account apparently skyrocketed to $63,000. It’s a common tactic for scammers, according to FBI Special Agent Kevin Hinrichs.
“They want to show you that that first trade you made or that first money commitment really worked out,” Hinrichs said.
Sandy’s adviser then told her to cash out, so she contacted the company, saying she wanted to transfer the money to her bank account. The company sent him an email telling him to transfer another $4,000 for fees and convert the cryptocurrency to dollars. After upgrades and additional transfer fees, Sandy was already in possession of $7,000, but hadn’t seen a penny of that $63,000 his account supposedly earned.
“If I log into my account, it actually shows that I removed it,” Sandy said. “Even though I couldn’t transfer any of it to, you know, my bank account.”
Hinrichs says the cybercurrency trade is booming with scammers posing as friends on social media,
“If you’ve never seen the whites of their eyes, you probably need to take a step back and assess the situation,” Hinrichs said.
According to the Better Business Bureau, last year scammers stole $14 billion worth of cryptocurrency globally. National figures show the BBB received nearly 2,500 complaints and consumers reported nearly $8 million in losses.
Hinrichs said many were too embarrassed to admit they had been scammed,
“There’s no shame or downside to being cheated on,” Hinrichs said. “They’re very accomplished professional criminals, so the fact that they got you to send money somewhere isn’t really an affront to yourself or your abilities.”
According to Hinrichs, some cryptocurrency banks work with government agencies that try to hold them accountable.
“Holding your money in one of these places gives you a lot more confidence that whatever you’re dealing with is legit and if something were to happen, action can be taken,” he said. .
Hinrichs said that ultimately buying virtual currency anywhere can be risky. Sandy now wishes she had trusted her instincts.
“If there’s a question in your mind, definitely listen to your intuition,” she said.
The Alaska news source contacted Best Currency Mining several times, but did not receive a response.
Victims of a cryptocurrency scam can go to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker website. The FBI also has an Internet Crime Complaint Center website.
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