Scams telling you to pay with Bitcoin on the rise

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By Cristina Miranda
Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

December 3, 2019 1:00 p.m.

At first, scammers tried to get you to wire them money. Then, they demanded payment with gift cards. Now, scammers are luring people into paying them with Bitcoin – a type of digital money or cryptocurrency. Read on to learn how to spot and avoid some of the top ways scammers are trying to get you to pay with Bitcoin.

1. Blackmail Scam. Someone says they know about an alleged affair, or something else embarrassing to you, and demands payments with Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency in exchange for keeping quiet. This scammers might use threats, intimidation, and high-pressure tactics to get you to pay right away. But, as we wrote in this blog post, that’s not only a scam, but also a criminal extortion attempt. Report it to the local police, the FBI, and the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

2. Online Chain Referral Schemes. This type of scam works like a chain letter: someone promises that you’ll make money if you pay into the scheme. But, in a twist, these scammers say you have to use cryptocurrency to pay for the right to recruit other people into the chain…so that you’ll then be rewarded with more cryptocurrency. Except you won’t. Instead, you’re guaranteed to lose money.

3. Bogus Investment and Business Opportunities. Someone might offer you investment and business opportunities that promise to make you big money, or give you financial freedom. But remember, only a scammer will guarantee that you will make money — in dollars or in cryptocurrency.

For more tips on avoiding scams, check out 10 Things You Can Do To Avoid Fraud. Spot a cryptocurrency scam? Tell us at ftc.gov/complaint.

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