FTC Data Shows Huge Spike in Cryptocurrency Investment Scams

New data spotlight points to more than ten-fold increase in reported losses in last 12 months

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Since October 2020, consumers have reported losing more than $80 million to cryptocurrency investment scams, an increase of more than ten-fold year-over-year, according to a new data analysis from the Federal Trade Commission.

In a new consumer protection data spotlight, the FTC breaks down the contents of nearly 7,000 reports received from consumers about these scams in the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. The median amount consumers reported losing to the scams was $1,900.

The spotlight notes that cryptocurrency investment scams take on a variety of forms, sometimes starting as offers of investment “tips” or “secrets” in online message boards that lead people to bogus investment websites. Another common form of the scam involves a promise that a celebrity associated with cryptocurrency will multiply any cryptocurrency you send to their wallet and send it back. In fact, consumers reported losing more than $2 million to Elon Musk impersonators alone since October.

The spotlight notes that consumers age 20 to 49 were over five times more likely than older age groups to report losing money to a cryptocurrency investment scam, and that in the six-month period covered by the spotlight, consumers in their 20s and 30s lost more money to investment scams than any other form of fraud. More than half of their investment scam losses were in cryptocurrency.

The FTC has more information for consumers about cryptocurrency investment scams, and how to avoid them, at ftc.gov/cryptocurrency.

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