The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has published a public service announcement on March 28 warning about the prevalence of scammers posing as tech support for a variety of industries, including the cryptocurrency sector.
The announcement defines tech support fraud as a “criminal claiming to provide customer, security, or technical support in an effort to defraud unwitting individuals,” and references the increasing frequency of this type of fraud leading to criminals“pos[ing] as government agents, even offering to recover supposed losses related to tech support fraud schemes or to request financial assistance with ‘apprehending’ criminals.”
Tech support fraud, which can occur through the telephone, search engines, pop-ups, locked screens, and phishing emails, is now also being perpetrated through the new targets of virtual currency exchanges, according to the FBI’s PSA.
The section on the new variations and trends of this type of fraud notes that virtual currency fraud has led to “individual victim losses often in the thousands of dollars.” The scam is carried out by a criminal who pretends to be a virtual currency service’s support representative in order to gain access to a crypto holder’s wallet, then transferring all of the crypto out while the fake “maintenance” is taking place, only to “cease all communication” and disappear with the funds.
The FBI suggests that the public update their ad-blocking and anti-virus software, examine customer support numbers found on search engines more carefully, and “resist[s] the pressure to act quickly” in online tech situations, as “criminals create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure the victim into immediate action.”
Victims of any tech support fraud scams are asked to immediately report the incidents in as much detail as possible to the IC3.
In January of this year, the IC3 warned the public about a different new method of cryptocurrency extortion – false death threats to individuals that requested crypto and fiat ransoms to spare their lives.