Scammers using cryptocurrency to steal millions

Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, in an unregulated industry, the Better Business Bureau warns.
Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, in an unregulated industry, the Better Business Bureau warns.(WWSB-TV)
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:45 AM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Internet scammers are gypping people out of millions and ABC7 has learned these cyber criminals are targeting people on the Suncoast -- and cryptocurrency is their Trojan horse.

You’ve heard of it, but do you know what it is?

Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency secured by encryption. The encryption makes it almost impossible to counterfeit or spend a digital token more than once.

Bitcoin is one form of crypto. Although it is encrypted, the Better Business Bureau says crypto is unregulated.

“Cryptocurrency is very confusing to a lot of consumers,” said Bryan Oglesby, a spokesman for the Better business Bureau serving West Florida. “Because there is all this confusion, scammers take this as an opportunity to take advantage of consumers,” he said.

He says scammers are using messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or your Instagram inbox to steal money.

They will pose as a friend or family member, send a friend request, then ask you to invest in a phony crypto product.

In Manatee County, in the 34217 ZIP code, one person reported losing $550 after someone hacked into their Facebook Messenger and Instagram and shared “scams for bitcoin,” they said.

It was reported to the Better Business Bureau scam tracker on April 4.

“Transactions are really not reversible with Bitcoin. It’s hard to trace the money. When it’s a scam, the scammer is usually overseas and it’s hard to track them down,” Oglesby said.

If you or someone you know is the victim of a scam, report it to the Better Business Bureau.

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