Scam artists capitalizing on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin

National News

NEW YORK (CBS News) — Millions of investors have jumped into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, scam artists are trying to capitalize on all the buzz.

Brandon Larsen, for example, lost $385,000.

“Well, I’ve shed a lot of tears, I’m not going to lie,” he said.

Larsen buys and sells cryptocurrency and recently downloaded an app he thought was related to the website he uses for trades. However, the app was fake, and all the money he put in vanished.

“It was actually $384,006 and some change,” he said.

Christopher Leach of the Federal Trade Commission said these types of scams have skyrocketed.

According to Leach, Americans have lost more than 80 million dollars in cryptocurrency investment scams between October and March, a 1,000 percent increase from the previous year.

There are several different scams out there, including one where con artists place fake ads online promising to triple your investment.

“But it requires you to give them your cryptocurrency,” Leach said. “Often what happens is that poof the cryptocurrency is gone when you try and remove it from the from the investment fund.”

Scammers also send e-mails posing as celebrities, including well known crypto-investor Elon Musk.

Leach said these scammers say if you give them some cryptocurrency, you can be entered into a drawing to win much more cryptocurrency.

“You have to be super careful who you trust in cryptocurrency,” he said.

Larsen learned that the hard way but will continue to trade.

(sot-brandon larsen/cryptocurrency scam victim)
“There’s still a tremendous opportunity to make money in crypto,” Larsen said. “I’m still going to take advantage of that.”

He reported his massive loss to authorities, but since crypto crimes are often untraceable, he doesn’t expect to see that money again.

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