Would-be cryptocurrency investors are being targeted in a scam that has already stolen more than $42.7 million from 244 victims, according to the latest private industry notification from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the FBI, scammers have used phishing attacks to convince victims to download fake mobile cryptocurrency investment apps impersonating legitimate investment apps. The victims then deposit cryptocurrency into wallets associated with their accounts on the app, giving the scammers control of the funds. One campaign between December and May used the name and logo of a legitimate company (unnamed in the alert) and defrauded 28 victims of $3.7 million.
When victims attempted to withdraw funds from these accounts, they received messages stating that they needed to pay taxes on their investments first.
The advisory warns legitimate cryptocurrency financial institutions to be on the lookout for these scams and alert the FBI about any attempts to lure investors with fake solicitations.
"While cryptocurrency steals headlines, the fraudsters are out in force trying to steal them too," Ryan McCurdy of Bolster.ai said in reaction to the FBI alert. "Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in researching companies and targeting employees."