The FBI’s field office in Miami warned that crypto ATMs were becoming a prominent tool used by scammers to receive their victims’ funds, CoinTelegraph reported.
Earlier this month, the FBI issued a public warning about so-called pig butchering scams, where cybercriminals pretend to be potential partners or long-lost friends to defraud victims of their funds.
The criminals demonstrate a supposedly genuine interest in the victims to gain their trust, or “fatten” them up. With time, they start to discuss investments.
No chance of retrieving funds
The FBI warned that pig butchering crypto scam victims usually have no change of retrieving their lost funds in its public service announcement, which was made in collaboration with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
One tendency the FBI has also caught wind of is that fraudsters are beginning to direct their victims to make transfers using crypto ATM machines more often.
Previously, the dominant methods were prepaid cards and wire transfers. The agency noted: “Many victims report being directed to make wire transfers to overseas accounts or purchase large amounts of prepaid cards.
“The use of cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency ATMs is also an emerging method of payment. Individual losses related to these schemes ranged from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.
“When the victims attempt to cash out their investments, they are told they need to pay income taxes or additional fees, causing them to lose additional funds.”
Scammers posing as staff of local utility companies, law enforcement agents, or public officials have been using crypto ATMs for a long time.
They trick victims into sending them payments under the pretense of making good on tax debt or paying off bills to avoid further penalties.
People are urged to verify investment validity
The FBI advises people to check if the investment opportunities introduced by potential partners or old friends are valid, watch for misspelled URLs and domain names imitating legitimate exchanges, and not to download any apps if they can’t find proof of their legitimacy.
There are just under 34,000 cryptocurrency ATMs in the US, Coin ATM Radar data show. The country has almost 90% of the crypto ATMs in the world.
Even the tech-savvy are not immune
In June this year, world media reported that Silicon Valley professionals had been cheated in a series of pig butchering fraud incidences in San Francisco. A few people each lost over $1 million to this type of financial scam.