IDAHO — A digital currency called Cryptocurrency is gaining in popularity, but according to a recent Better Business Bureau study, the number of Cryptocurrency-related scams is also growing.
"It's unregulated, untraceable, and untouchable, so it only lives within encrypted computer code," said Rebecca Barr, a BBB spokesperson. "It's confusing but it's also super popular, we're hearing about it a lot more."
Barr said this is what makes it a con artist's dream. The BBB has seen cryptocurrency-related fraud triple in the last three years.
"It's probably not going away, as cryptocurrency gets more and more popular, con artists will continue to capitalize on it," Barr said.
The most common scams the BBB found in a recent study are investment scams on social media, either from hacked accounts or someone impersonating a celebrity.
"Someone can pretend, they can fake a tweet from Elon Musk saying, "hey everybody go buy this cryptocurrency,'" Barr said.
Scams from a hacked account may be a post that looks like it's a friend sharing their cryptocurrency investment success, but really, it's a scam.
"Call your friend, text your friend on the side outside of the platform," Barr said.
This doesn't mean investing in cryptocurrency is a bad idea, but education is important.
"If you do know someone who's legitimately investing in cryptocurrency, find out what app they're using," Barr said.
There's a cryptocurrency education group based here in Idaho, the Idaho Crypto Group. The two founders got interested in cryptocurrency a few years ago and started the group.
"Now that we've spent the years and spent the time on gaining this knowledge, we're here to share it to not only save people from scams but also to help people avoid the mistakes we've made in the past," Ryan Clements, a co-founder of Idaho Crypto Group said.
Their biggest security tip is related to the digital wallet anyone investing in cryptocurrency has to set up. Barr explains it's similar to a physical wallet.
"As soon as someone can--has access to your wallet and your key, they can take all of your money," she said.
Clements said as with most accounts, the easiest way for a hacker to get in, is with your passcode.
"When you start up a wallet, you're going to get something called your seed words and it's basically a secret recovery passcode," he said.
The co-founders of the Idaho Crypto Group recommend writing this down on paper and storing it somewhere safe.
If you do fall for a cryptocurrency-related scam, Barr says it's very difficult to get your money back, but you should still file a complaint with the FBI, FTC, BBB, or local law enforcement.
Other red flags still apply to avoiding cryptocurrency-related scams.
- Be careful what links you're clicking on
- Make sure you're using reputable websites
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.