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There's a new spin on scammers asking people to pay with cryptocurrency. It involves an impersonator, a QR code, and a trip to a store (directed by a scammer on the phone) to send your money to them through a cryptocurrency ATM.

It works like this: someone might call pretending to be from the government, law enforcement, or a local utility company. Maybe a romantic interest you met online calls, or someone calls to say you’ve won the lottery or a prize. They’ll wind up asking you for money. If you believe the story they tell and you seem willing to engage, they’ll stay on the phone to direct you to withdraw money from your bank, investment, or retirement accounts. Then they’ll tell you to go to a store with a cryptocurrency ATM (and they’ll stay on the phone the whole time). Once you’re there, they’ll direct you to insert your money into the ATM and buy cryptocurrency. Here’s where the QR code comes in: they send you a QR code with their address embedded in it. Once you buy the cryptocurrency, they have you scan the code so the money gets transferred to them. But then your money is gone.

Here’s the main thing to know: nobody from the government, law enforcement, utility company, or prize promoter will ever tell you to pay them with cryptocurrency. If someone does, it’s a scam, every time. Any unexpected tweet, text, email, call, or social media message — particularly from someone you don’t know — asking you to pay them in advance for something, including with cryptocurrency, is a scam.

If you spot something like this, tell the FTC right away at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. And to learn more about avoiding cryptocurrency scams, visit ftc.gov/cryptocurrency.

12 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Mike
January 10, 2022
This info should be available for everybody to see.TV should run them as Public service announcements.
khairulkhitam
January 10, 2022
I'd like to ask ? about payment fraud with crypto cureency. what if someone from government law enforcement requests a deposit payment from someone who accepts money transfers from foreign banks for example wells fargo from USA to BCA Indonesia, so that the deposit payment is to delete the account to avoid illegal international transactions, and the payment will be re-released to the government (IRS) back to the recipient with the money transferred from the sender. My question is whether there is a legal basis, which makes the money back to the recipient, if it has been paid. if not paid then the sender will be caught by the police. So my question is, is this some kind of fraud or is it really a government regulation or law enforcement. thank you please explain.
KnowerOfThings
January 11, 2022

In reply to by khairulkhitam

That's fraud, the government wont take bitcoin for a payment for anything. If you ever have a doubt, hang up on the caller, look up the return number for the agency in question, and call them. see if they have any record of calling you.
Nighthawke
January 10, 2022
I was scammed on line to invest money in crypto currency. I also fell for other scam on dating site which unfortunately lost me my life saving. You can't trust anyone on the internet especially when they ask you for Money. I wish we lived in the 70's before internet was created. You just go to your bank to pay your bills & deposit your paycheck. I could say alot more but what's the point. Don't trust anyone online.
Brianlizardking
January 22, 2022

In reply to by Nighthawke

This there anyway to recover money from Bitcoin scam?
Trust nobody
January 29, 2022

In reply to by Nighthawke

Same thing has happened to me, and it hurt other people in the mist. I feel so embarrassed, this is my lively hood and I don’t want to put nobody else’s in danger. I will never go on an online dating website ever again.
Psalms of victory
January 10, 2022
Sad when people believe that they will get something for doing what they ask
DeeDee
January 11, 2022
This shenanigans is never going to end, is it? In my 61 years I've seen, read about, heard about so many different types of scams and cons. My knowledge of such things come from the people who were victims of these crimes, and they chose my shoulder to lean on and hear them express their anger and pain. These thieves have no idea, and surly wouldn't care at all, how bad they hurt their victims. It boggles the mind that time after time it is the everyday person, not rich in any way that keep being the targets of these crimes. It's tragic. I want all our there to be aware, be so very aware and protect yourselves. 99% of every text, email, and calls are attempts to scam you and take your money. They do not care about you. Trust NOBODY.
Anna
January 13, 2022
so I fell victim to such a fraud and nowhere can I get help to recover the lost money. the naivety of getting rich quickly leads to even more poverty
Shield
January 18, 2022
How about being scam with bitcoin to trade and get profits ?
Pmingib
January 23, 2022
Can you track down these scammers
Pmingib
January 23, 2022
I definitely was scammed, silly me all I want is my money back, first time experience this situation