Over the past few years, the cryptocurrency craze has grown exponentially and there is a lot of digital money flying around. Wherever there is a lot of money, scammers, blackmailers, and criminals are always looking to pounce on any available prey. These scammers and hackers see the crypto-market as ripe for serious exploitation and blackmail opportunities. There’s little wonder then that Bitcoin (BTC) scams are popping up every day.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency users are busy struggling to get into the action so as not to miss out on the next big event. Promises of big profits are too common as the crypto-market is filled with a high level of volatility. Based on this, people can easily make poor decisions and fall prey to blackmail and scams.
Therefore, with a little practical knowledge and common sense, you can smoothly navigate the cryptocurrency industry safely. In this guide, we will teach you some tips on how to avoid Bitcoin scams.
1. A New Wave of Bitcoin Blackmail Schemes
An excerpt from the website of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reads as follows:
“Scammers have been sending letters to men, demanding payments using bitcoin in exchange for keeping quiet about alleged affairs. The letter also explains how to use bitcoin to make the payment.
This is a criminal extortion attempt to separate people from their money.
If you — or someone you know — get a letter like this, report it immediately to your local police, and the FBI.
Threats, intimidation and high-pressure tactics are classic signs of a scam”.
The commission is planning to halt the high incidence of Bitcoin blackmail scams and they are offering consumers advice through their website.
Nowadays, Bitcoin scammers use a general message that does not specify the nature of the secret they are on the verge of exposing. This is the common strategy they use to attack the victim’s guilty conscience.
When the unsuspecting victims see such message, they panic and rush to send them Bitcoin without knowing that the scammer has just been sending out such emails indiscriminately, counting on a statistical chance.
A related incident took place at the beginning of this year when scammers sent paper mail to their victims using the United States Postal Service. The letter was accusing the victims of having extramarital affairs.
The prediction of the scammers is that some of the accused persons would feel guilty and then send them Bitcoin just to shut them up. Also, they felt that one out of every five spouses has had an extramarital affair at one point in life.
2. Prominent Signs of Bitcoin Blackmail Scheme
“Pay upfront for promised reward is basically a scam.”
Following the rising cases of Bitcoin blackmail scams, the Federal Trade Commission has identified some of the tactics scammers use to carry out their nefarious activities. Some of these signs are:
- Any program that asks you to pay upfront or send Bitcoin for a promised reward is another scam strategy.
- The majority of the scammers provide payment methods without any option of a refund, either in cryptocurrencies or through Western Union. This mode of payment is another sign of a scammer.
- When a product or business opportunity offers consumers a free trial, it is a sign of scam as it opens up an opportunity for them to expose their credit card details.
Bitcoin scam continues to rise virtually in all sectors of life. The latest report has it that a businessman from South Korea lost $2.3M USD worth of Bitcoin to peer-to-peer scam. Also, a Hawaiian victim was actually asked to pay their utility bill or risk the disconnection of such services.
Just a few of these incidences show that Bitcoin blackmail schemes and cryptocurrency scams are all around us. If you don’t open your eyes wide, you may end up paying hush money in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.
3. Tips on How to Guard Against these Hoodlums – Scammers
With the following practical tips, you can learn how to outsmart and even stay ahead of the ever-evolving strategies of these scammers.
Scammers usually pretend to be reliable folks such as a family friend, a government official, or a business colleague. If they make an unexpected request in terms of money or personal information, do not oblige them. They can use various communication channels such as email, text message, or a phone call to achieve their aim.
Don’t pay in advance for a promise
Somebody may ask you to pay upfront, either in cash or Bitcoin for credit/loan offer, mortgage assistance, or even a job. Alternatively, they may tell you that you have won a prize and demand that you pay fees or tax. Don’t dare do it as they will likely take your money and run away. Such promises are fake! What seems too good to be true almost always is.
Hang up on questionable phone calls
Nowadays, robocalls are rampant. So, if you answer a phone call and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up the phone and possibly report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.
Consider your mode of payment
Although credit cards have enough fraud detection built on them, some payment methods do not have such security measures. Therefore, payment through Western Union or MoneyGram is dangerous as you can hardly get the money you have sent out already. Reputable companies and government offices will not require you to send money through these modes of payment.
As a matter of safety and security, you should investigate any organization or person that wants you to send payment in Bitcoin.
Talk to the law-enforcement officers
If you receive a letter from any quarter demanding anything from you. or threatening you for infidelity, report it to the police, FBI, or FTC. In the same manner, if you receive a letter requesting you to pay a ransom in Bitcoin, immediately alert the proper authorities.
These are just few security tips you should take seriously in order to stay safe in this crazy volatile cryptocurrency market. The takeaway is clear – suspect anything that comes up outside your regular life patterns.
Scammers are all over the place sending letters to the unsuspecting public, especially men. They demand payments in Bitcoin in exchange for keeping silent for alleged extramarital affairs.
These messages are not real, they are scams and the authors are after your cryptocurrency. If you come across such messages, inform the police or the FBI. Stay safe!
This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Users are ultimately responsible for the investment decisions he/she/it makes based on this information. It is your responsibility to review, analyze and verify any content/information before relying on them. Trading is a highly risky activity. Do consult your financial adviser before making any decision. Please conduct your thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency and read our full disclaimer.
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