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What’s one of the best ways to spot a scam? Know how scammers tell you to pay. Scammers want you to pay them in ways that are hard to trace and hard to get your money back: like through a gift card, wire transfer, payment app, or cryptocurrency. Here, we’ll focus on that last one — cryptocurrency — and how to avoid cryptocurrency-related scams.

Let’s start at the beginning: cryptocurrency is digital currency you get through an app on your phone, a website, or at a cryptocurrency ATM. Bitcoin and Ether are some of the most well-known, but there are lots of others. Scammers like to use cryptocurrencies because they don’t have the same legal protections as credit or debit cards, and payments usually can’t be reversed.

So, what do scams that involve cryptocurrency typically look like? Scammers may call, pretend to be from a government agency and say you need to pay a fine — using cryptocurrency. Or they may pose as an online love interest who needs you to send money for an expensive medical procedure — using cryptocurrency. Or the scammer may offer you a job, but say you need to pay a fee before you get hired — using, you guessed it, cryptocurrency.

To avoid these and other scams, know that:

  • Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency. No legitimate business  or government agency is going to demand you pay with cryptocurrency — not to buy something, pay taxes or fines, and not to “protect” your money. That’s always a scam.
  • Never pay a fee to get a job. If someone asks you to pay upfront for a job — with cryptocurrency or any other type of payment — or says to buy cryptocurrency to get a job, it’s a scam.
  • Never mix cryptocurrency and online dating. If you meet someone through online dating who asks you to send them cryptocurrency or wants to “help” you invest in crypto, that’s a scam.

Spot a cryptocurrency scam? Report it to the FTC: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency

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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.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

ÑF W Young
August 29, 2023

Yes this has happened to me and now trying to get my funds back has been a nightmare !! It started by someone showing you how to invest online. I reported my case to the FTC here and nobody has tried to help or contact me .

Garcia Rossanna
August 29, 2023

I payed cripto currency $600 for a deposit for apartment application I never received no receipt and the second was $100 for medical expenses, but I was understanding late that all this was scam

Jamila
August 31, 2023

I have been told that i will get paid for online job and has to recharge for negative num with cryptocurrency i have lost 19000 in this. i have reported to FTC but nothing yet. Its a trauma for me.

Glen
September 18, 2023

In reply to by Jamila

Was it for writing product reviews for commissions and you get “lucky” packages that make your account negative, so you have to put your own money in and you can’t withdraw your money until all 38 tasks are done?

Cory
September 19, 2023

In reply to by Jamila

I just found out that I have been scam the same way. I am a single mom with limited income because I am disabled. How do I start to try to get my money back? I know that it is probably going to be a nightmare and there is a chance that I will never get my money back. I just need advice on where to start the process to report.

FTC Staff
September 19, 2023

In reply to by Cory

Cryptocurrency payments typically are not reversible. Once you pay with cryptocurrency, you can only get your money back if the person you paid sends it back. But contact the company you used to send the money and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask them to reverse the transaction, if possible.
Read more about cryptocurrency at www.ftc.gov/cryptocurrency. Report scams to the FTC at www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Someone
September 15, 2023

Just want to warn people if you get a Texas number and it’s from a Terrence Lucas it’s a scam.