DENVER (KDVR) — The FBI is warning about cryptocurrency scams that have siphoned millions from unsuspecting victims, including in Colorado.
Cryptocurrency investment scammers are increasingly targeting mature adults and especially involve Tether and USD Coin, according to the FBI. The bureau described how the scams typically play out.
“In a common scenario, the victim is approached on a social media platform, dating app or discussion forum with a cryptocurrency investment opportunity,” the FBI said in a news release. “The victim is directed to a link or phone number to set up the investment account. This is a scam — the link or phone number is controlled by the fraudster, who has set up a fictitious support site. Once the victim transfers the funds, the fraudster disappears with the money.”
The FBI gave five “recent” examples of Coloradans who lost more than $4 million combined to such scams. Four of the cases involved Tether investment scams that took around $3.45 million from victims:
- $600,000 from a 52-year-old Aurora man
- $1.3 million from a 61-year-old Denver woman
- $350,000 from a 62-year-old Evergreen man
- $1.2 million from a late-40s couple from Parker
In another case involving USD Coin, a Timnath man lost $600,000.
The FBI said there are “two major cons” in these cases.
In one, someone poses as an “investment manager” and promises to make you money if you send cryptocurrency to their account. In another, someone poses as a love interest online and does the same.
“The advice and offers to help you invest in cryptocurrency are nothing but scams. If you send them crypto, or money of any kind, it’ll be gone, and you typically won’t get it back,” the FBI warned.
Anyone who thinks they are a victim of cryptocurrency investment fraud can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and should report the fraud to the exchange company used to send the money.
You are advised to keep all documentation, including communications and financial transaction information.
What is Tether and USD Coin?
Tether and USD Coin are stablecoins, which use blockchain technology like Bitcoin and Ethereum but are tied to government-backed currency, like the dollar, gold or government bonds. They are typically priced as one coin for one unit of currency.
Tether, created by Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, has been described as the most popular stablecoin in the industry, with a market capitalization of more than $70 billion as of last summer. USD Coin, issued by the company Circle, comes next with more than $54 billion in that coin as of last summer.
The two lead the market after the collapse of TerraUSD, which erased an estimated $40 billion in investor funds in a matter of days.
In 2021, Tether agreed to pay $41 million to settle charges that it misled investors by claiming the token was fully backed at all times by U.S. dollars and other fiat currencies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.