New York Police Warn Citizens of Cryptocurrency Phone Scams
In New York, Bitcoin scammers are impersonating Social Security Administrators. A report by The Next Web reveals the New York Police Department (NYPD) sent out a warning to the public, alerting them to fraudsters who call and ask for payment in bank wire transfers, bitcoin (BTC), and prepaid gift cards.
“Just Hang Up”
According to The Next Web, the New York Police Department (NYPD) is warning the general public to beware of phone impersonators. The NYPD stated that over 200 victims had lost over $2 million to phone scammers in 2019 alone. In 2018, authorities reported a mere three complaints in 2018.
Jessica Corey, Deputy Inspector, C.O. of the Crime Prevention Division, educated the public via a video on the NYPD News Twitter handle. In the video, Corey alerted the public to the rise of phone scammers.
Part of the clip says:
“If you receive a phone call appearing to be from the Social Security Administration, be it from a person or a robocall, it’s very likely that this is a scam.”
Furthermore, Corey explained how these scams occur, saying that the impostors scare the victims by giving bogus claims concerning their Social Security Number. Sometimes the fraudsters claim that the victim’s number is connected to money laundering or drug trafficking.
To further corroborate their fraudulent claims, the scammers “transfer” the victim’s number to a person posing as an NYPD officer or any law enforcement agent. The agent would then intimidate the victim into “settling” to avoid arrest.
Means of payments requested by the impostors include BTC, pre-paid gift cards, FedEx, or to another bank account.
Nilda Hofmann, Chief of Community Affairs, also commented on the growing rate of phone scams. Hofmann opined:
“Sophisticated phone scams use the trust victims have in their own governmental and law enforcement agencies against them. Victims of this type of phone scam are not limited to senior citizens – these criminals are targeting every strata of society and every demographic is vulnerable.”
Hofmann and Corey advised the public to ignore such calls, as no government agency would ask for funds via phone calls or demand for personal details.
The Many Forms of Cryptocurrency Phone Scams
Such instances of impersonation via phone calls is not new, but it seems to have successfully weaved its way into the cryptocurrency industry. Most of the scammers ride on the fear of their victims and often threaten with legal actions.
As reported by BTCManager, Waterloo Regional Police alerted the public to the growing rate of scammers. According to the report, eight victims lost $100,000 under one week. The fraudsters posed as officials from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) and threatened victims with outstanding taxes. Scared and willing to avoid penalties, victims deposited money in BTC ATMS.
In Australia, victims fell for scammers claiming to be debt tax collectors. The fraudsters forced the victims to pay a fake tax debt into a bitcoin ATM or risk being arrested.