Scammers are using crypto ATMs and impersonating everyone from law enforcement to utility workers to steal money, the FTC warns

Scammers are using crypto ATMs and impersonating everyone from law enforcement to utility workers to steal money, the FTC warns
  • A "new spin" on crypto scams involves fraudsters luring victims to crypto ATMs, the FTC said in a public alert.
  • Scammers are calling people pretending to work for the government or law enforcement, among other roles.
  • The warning comes as crypto scams soared in 2021.
  • A US consumer protection agency is warning about a "new spin" on scams involving cryptocurrency, raising an alert about impersonators luring people to send them money through cryptocurrency ATMs.

    The Federal Trade Commission in a notification Monday said fraudsters are calling people pretending to work for the government or law enforcement or for a local utility company then eventually start asking for money.

    The scammers will stay on the line directing people to withdraw money from their banking, retirement, or investment accounts and tell them to go to a location with a cryptocurrency ATM. While there, they'll say to insert the cash into the machine to purchase crypto.

    "Here's where the QR code comes in: they send you a QR code with their address embedded in it," the agency said in highlighting a fraudster's steps.

    "Once you buy the cryptocurrency, they have you scan the code so the money gets transferred to them. But then your money is gone," said Cristina Miranda with the FTC's division of consumer and business education in the statement.

    Scammers will also target people by calling them and pretending they have won the lottery or a prize or act as the romantic interest they've met online.

    The FTC's warning comes as . Fraudsters brought in $7.7 million in revenue last year, an 81% surge from a year ago, according to Chainalysis. The blockchain data platform said that jump in crimes was largely driven by so-called "rug pulls" in which developers of a cryptocurrency project — typically a new token — abandon it and take users' funds with them.

    "[Nobody] from the government, law enforcement, utility company, or prize promoter will ever tell you to pay them with cryptocurrency," said the FTC. "Any unexpected tweet, text, email, call, or social media message — particularly from someone you don't know — asking you to pay them in advance for something, including with cryptocurrency, is a scam."

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