The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has brought the whole world to a standstill, with the majority of countries worldwide placed under strict lockdown measures to contain the spread.
The crypto community remains enthusiastic, despite the ongoing crisis, with the upcoming Bitcoin Halving just a month away. However, this enthusiasm has also made them vulnerable to scams.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released a warning on Monday specifically for crypto holders, suggesting they be prepared for a surge of coronavirus-centred crypto scams in the coming weeks.
Cryptocurrencies have turned out to be a lucrative investment in the past couple of years, which has drawn the interest and investments from people of all kinds, be it institutional investors, small-time traders, young or old. This rapid rise in interest has also given way for scammers to lure many into Ponzi schemes, promising high returns in a short period of time.
However, the risk of scammers has risen significantly in these troubled times where a majority of the population are uncertain of their financial future, as most of the financial markets hit record lows and scarce investment opportunities.
The FBI believes scammers are praying on these insecurities to steal people’s hard-earned money, and launder it through the complex ecosystem of decentralized coin exchanges. While entities like Huobi have taken steps to prevent these activities, buyers beware.
FBI Believe Scammers May use Humanitarian Aid as Cover for Scams
The FBI warning noted that the scammers might use a number of methods and curtail their pitches on emotion quotient in the ongoing situation, where they might pretend to be from organizations looking for donations to help the needy.
The FBI also believes blackmail could also be a scamming avenue for making money. Where the scammers may threaten to infect the victim’s family with the Coronavirus.
The FBI has also urged people to be cautious and, use common sense and not let their emotions get better of them.
The agency has also stated that people should refrain from donating to anyone before verifying the credibility of the source, and report any suspicious website/s or person/s asking for donations.
While there is no clarity on why the agency suddenly issued such a specific warning, it seems there have been many COVID-19-themed scams in the past couple of weeks, prompting the authorities to issue the warning.
In one instance, scammers managed to collect $2 million from PPE seekers in Asia. A few scammers in the UK and USA were found sending malicious texts which drew attention from financial regulators.
A Chainalysis report has revealed that the ongoing pandemic has brought down funding of these scams by one third. This, however, hasn’t discouraged scammers from trying to phish people as their number of attempts have remained constant.