FBI has issued a warning regarding a new wave of fraudulent schemes in which attackers trick people into using cryptocurrency ATMs to send them money.
In most frauds, criminals try to persuade their victims to send them money using various pretexts and schemes. Tracking funds through the banking systems is a lot easier than cryptocurrency transactions. With cryptocurrency ATMs increasingly showing up all over the place, attackers have begun to direct victims to physical locations with all the information they would need to make a successful transfer.
Setting up a personal wallet, transferring funds and then moving them to the criminal’s cryptocurrency wallet is a lot more complicated than sending the potential victim directly to an ATM that takes care of all the steps.
“Criminal actors, in various fraudulent schemes, maliciously leverage cryptocurrency ATMs and QR codes to receive payments from victims,” says the FBI.
“Such schemes include online impersonation schemes (scammer falsely identifies as a familiar entity such as the government, law enforcement, a legal office, or a utility company), romance schemes (scammer establishes an online relationship with a victim by creating a false sense of intimacy and dependency), and lottery schemes (scammer falsely convinces a victim that they have won an award and consequently demands the victim to pay lottery fees),” the agency added.
Simply put, the scammer directs victims to cryptocurrency ATMs and gives them a QR code. When the ATM asks for input information, the victim scans the QR, and everything is complete per the criminals’ instructions. Tracking that money once it enters the crypto world is very difficult.
FBI also issued several tips on how people can protect themselves:
· Do not send payment to someone you have spoken to only online, even if you believe you have established a relationship with the individual.
· Do not follow instructions from someone you have never met to scan a QR code and send payment via a physical cryptocurrency ATM.
· Do not respond to a caller who claims to represent a company, where you are an account holder, and who requests personal information or demands cryptocurrency. Contact the number listed on your card or the entity directly for verification.
· Do not respond to a caller from an unknown telephone number that identifies as a person you know and requests cryptocurrency.
· Practice caution when an entity states they can only accept cryptocurrency and identifies as the government, law enforcement, a legal office, or a utility company. These entities will likely not instruct you to wire funds, send checks, send money overseas, or make deposits into unknown individuals’ accounts.
· Avoid cryptocurrency ATMs advertising anonymity and only require a phone number or e-mail. These cryptocurrency ATMs may be non-compliant with US federal regulations and may facilitate money laundering. Instructions to use cryptocurrency ATMs with these specific characteristics are a significant indicator of fraud.
· If you are using a cryptocurrency ATM and the ATM operator calls you to explain that your transactions are consistent with fraud and advises you to stop sending money, you should stop or cancel the transaction.