If your new online love seems too good to be true, well, you might be right. The FBI put out a Public Service Announcement last week to raise awareness of a new trend in online romance scams. In the first seven months of the year, the FBI says it received more than 1,800 complaints about a grift that involves getting victims to invest or trade cryptocurrency and has resulted in approximately $133.4 million in losses.
The scam works like this: After establishing a relationship with a victim on dating apps or through social media, the scammer will suggest that they can help the victim make money through cryptocurrency. Theyll use some sort of fake site to secure an initial investment and then let the victim withdraw a profit to further secure their trust. From there, the scammer will convince the victim to invest more—and then more, claiming there is a need for additional funding to cover taxes, fees, or meet a minimum balance. The victim is never able to withdraw any money again, and the scammer will disappear when the investments stop.
The top advice officials offer for avoiding such scams is to never move money based on the requests or advice of someone you have only met online. That also goes for offering up personal details, such as your Social Security number, bank account details, or copies of your identification materials. Other experts caution paying close attention to any websites or emails strangers send, even if they look legitimate, as scammers have become skilled in spoofing existing websites to appear nearly identical to those of real companies and brands. Its worth giving your basic online security a check-in, as well. The AARP has some helpful tips for reviewing your accounts, such as reviewing the privacy settings on your social media accounts, being careful not to post telling details about your location or contact information, and avoiding logging into social media on public WiFi networks.
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