The FBI warns of an increase of fraudulent schemes leveraging cryptocurrency ATMs and QR Codes to facilitate payment.
The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) published an alert to warn the public of fraudulent schemes leveraging cryptocurrency ATMs and Quick Response (QR) codes to complete payment transactions.
This payment option makes it quite impossible to recover the money stolen with fraudulent schemes.
“The FBI warns the public of fraudulent schemes leveraging cryptocurrency ATMs and Quick Response (QR) codes to facilitate payment. The FBI has seen an increase in scammers directing victims to use physical cryptocurrency ATMs and digital QR codes to complete payment transactions.” reads the alert.
QR codes can be used at cryptocurrency ATMs to transfer money to an intended recipient and crooks started using them to receive payments from victims.
Fraudulent schemes include online impersonation in which scammer poses as a familiar entity (i.e. The government, law enforcement, a legal office, or a utility company), romance scams, and lottery schemes (scammer attempt to convince victims that they have won an award).
In all the fraudulent schemes, scammers provide a QR code associated with the scammer’s cryptocurrency wallet that the victim has to use during the transaction. The victims are instructed to make the transition at a physical cryptocurrency ATM where inserting money that can purchase cryptocurrency before transferring them using the provided QR code.
In these schemes, the scammers are in constant online communication with the victims and provide step-by-step instructions to make the payment.
“Cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature creates challenges that makes it difficult to recover. Once a victim makes the payment, the recipient instantly owns the cryptocurrency, and often immediately transfers the funds into an account overseas. This differs from traditional bank transfers or wires where a payment transaction can remain pending for one to two days before settlement.” continues the FBI. “It can also make law enforcement’s recovery of the funds difficult and can leave many victims with a financial loss.”
Below are the tips provided by the FBI to avoid being victims of this kind of scam:
- Do not send payment to someone you have only spoken to online, even if you believe you have established a relationship with the individual.
- Do not follow instructions from someone you have never met to scan a QR code and send payment via a physical cryptocurrency ATM.
- Do not respond to a caller, who claims to be a representative of a company, where you are an account holder, and who requests personal information or demands cryptocurrency. Contact the number listed on your card or the entity directly for verification.
- Do not respond to a caller from an unknown telephone number, who identifies as a person you know and requests cryptocurrency.
- Practice caution when an entity states they can only accept cryptocurrency and identifies as the government, law enforcement, a legal office, or a utility company. These entities will likely not instruct you to wire funds, send checks, send money overseas, or make deposits into unknown individuals’ accounts.
- Avoid cryptocurrency ATMs advertising anonymity and only requiring a phone number or e-mail. These cryptocurrency ATMs may be non-compliant with US federal regulations and may facilitate money laundering. Instructions to use cryptocurrency ATMs with these specific characteristics are a significant indicator of fraud.
- If you are using a cryptocurrency ATM and the ATM operator calls you to explain that your transactions are consistent with fraud and advises you to stop sending money, you should stop or cancel the transaction.
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