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Crypto Scams Flourish Online – New Database Provides Window Into Operations, Methods, and Money Lost

Cryptocurrency scams are everywhere it seems. Recently several crypto scams used hacked YouTube channels to promote fake investment schemes that subscribers to those channels may have seen as legitimate because they were coming from the channel itself. 

The California State Department of Financial Protection and Innovation recently created a public-facing database of reported scams that sheds light on the depth of the scams and how quickly victims can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency. While there have always been financial scams that separated people from their money, crypto scams are entirely online, in most cases untraceable, and completely unregulated (at least right now) by governments or financial institutions.  

One of the scams, operating from the website www.coinmicro.org, included the following details:

Two separate victims reported meeting a person on dating app “Coffee Meets Bagel,” who then asked to move the chat to WhatsApp, where the victims believed they were beginning a relationship. The scammer claimed to be rich and could teach each victim how to trade cryptocurrency. Both victims sent money to this person to purchase cryptocurrency and were told the money would be invested in CoinMicro. Victim #1 gave $30,000, and then continued to give money. At some point, victim #1 tried to withdraw the money, but was told they needed to pay a 15% tax upfront to withdraw the funds. Victim #2 invested more than $200,000 and only learned it was a scam from a friend. The company operated a website at https://www.coinmicro.org.

There are a number of cases where scammers set up fake websites/domains that mimic legitimate trading platforms, and entice users to invest more by showing them significant returns on initial investments. 

The new California database is a good first step in starting ot educate the public, but more needs to be done and brand owners, including the owners of legitimate trading platforms, need to start to take on the task of educating their customers in the risks associated with sending, anyone, cryptocurrency. 

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