Cryptocurrency scammers have reportedly been posing as government officials and asking people to make payments in Bitcoin (BTC) or use prepaid gift cards.
New York’s Police Department (NYPD) has issued a warning regarding the fraudulent activity and has also reported the scammers have already stolen millions of dollars by posing as Social Security Administration (SSA) officers.
Over 200 Complaints Received
As confirmed by the NYPD, cryptocurrency-related scams involving bad actors posing as government officials have increased significantly. In fact, the NYPD revealed it received over 200 complaints this year regarding losses of more than $2 million (in total). Notably, the NYPD said it only received three such complaints thrgouhout last year.
Commenting on the matter, Nilda Hofmann, the Chief of Community Affairs, remarked:
Sophisticated phone scams use the trust victims have in their own governmental and law enforcement agencies against them. Victims of this type of phone scam are not limited to senior citizens – these criminals are targeting every strata of society and every demographic is vulnerable.
“Just Hang Up If You Suspect Call To Be Fraudulent”
Hofmann added that the NYPD has been working cooperatively with its partners in the financial sector. She also noted that police officials are committed towards investigating the matter and will hold the criminals accountable for their exploitative actions.
Hoffman advised that “if you even suspect a call to be fraudulent, don’t take a chance, just hang up.”
Scammers Misleading Victims
Scammers posing as government officials have been calling unsuspecting individuals and have been telling them that their social security number was used without their consent to open various accounts. Some of the victims were also told their government-issued IDs were used to engage in illicit activities such as money laundering and drug trafficking.
After the victims have been tricked into thinking their social security number was misused, the scammers tell them to transfer large sums of money, in order to resolve the matter. According to the NYPD, the scammers pose as “law enforcement officers” or “police officials” and use intimidation and issue threats in order to get the victims to comply.
Scammers often use “spoofing” techniques to mislead people into believing that they are actually receiving phone calls from government officials. These tactics can be quite convincing at times because the victim’s caller ID actually displays the real number of the Social Security Administration (after it has been spoofed).