Started in 2008, Bitcoin is the first and best-known cryptocurrency of the more than 4,000 cryptocurrencies in existence today.
Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, meaning that it does not rely on centralized institutions, like banks, to move money from one place to another. Instead, money can be transferred directly from person to person using technology to manage and verify the transactions.
Bitcoin was initially designed to provide an electronic payment system where every transaction can be verified. While this is true, cryptocurrencies are widely used by scammers because of two key things, they don’t require disclosure of any personal information, and you can't reverse transactions.
Other major cryptocurrencies include:
Be very wary of anyone asking you to pay using Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. Some of the most common Bitcoin scams to look out for include:
Scammers contact you claiming they have access to sensitive information about you or files they've stolen from your computer. They demand payment in Bitcoin, or they will release the information on social media.
These work in the same way as many other phishing scams that try to get access to critical information about you. Scammers send an email containing links to a fake website designed to get you to enter the access key to your Bitcoin digital wallet. With this information, scammers can steal your Bitcoin.
Social media has proved to be a great way to distribute fake information and solicit your Bitcoin. There have been several incidents where high-profile individuals' and companies' accounts were hacked, with messages being sent about a giveaway they're hosting.
To participate in the giveaway, you must send a specified amount of Bitcoin to an address to "verify" your wallet. Once sent, there is nothing that you can do to get it back, and there was never a giveaway to being with.
Similar to Initial Public Offerings (IPO), where companies issue shares to raise capital, an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is set up to raise money for a project on the internet using cryptocurrency. Unlike an IPO, you are not investing in a recognized company, and the market is unregulated, so you are not protected if the platform is hacked or turns out to be a scam.
Scammers will set up a fake ICO, then when they are finished fundraising, they disappear, taking your money.
Scammers target social media users with posts promising huge profits investing in cryptocurrency. They convince you to make a small initial investment and, after a month, tell you you've made a profit.
They continue to encourage you to reinvest (and invest more bitcoin) and again tell you you've made a profit. What you don’t know is that they are paying you with other investors' money rather than profits, and when the whole thing collapses, the scammers disappear with your money.
Websites that look just like legitimate bitcoin exchange sites are set up by scammers to steal your money. These fake exchange sites will usually try to convince you to invest money using the site by giving you free coins or promising huge returns.
A healthy dose of skepticism is the best approach to beating Bitcoin scams. If the promises made sound too good to be true, the chances are that it is a scam.
It's important to stay wary of Bitcoin scams and to proceed with caution whenever you transfer bitcoin to someone, as you cannot reverse transactions, even if you were scammed.
If you've fallen victim to a Bitcoin scam, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and provide as much information as possible.
There are also other steps you can take to try and retrieve your stolen bitcoin, such as:
Using a new bitcoin exchange might not seem like a big deal, but if you don't do your research first, you could end up losing thousands of dollars.
Don't believe everything you hear. If someone promises high returns on a bitcoin investment, proceed with caution.
If a hacker is blackmailing you to get bitcoin, it can be hard to figure out if it's an empty threat or a real one.
Scammers impersonate well-known banks, such as Citibank and Chase, to trick you into giving up your sensitive information—learn how to beat these scams.
Venmo users are noticing suspicious emails hitting their inboxes with claims of a large sum of money waiting to be transferred by a PayPal user.
Fake PayPal emails regarding your eBay transactions are sent by scammers to fake payments and steal your information.
Although buyers may seem like they're being helpful, an offer to organize shipping for you is often an attempt to scam you.
PayPal is a convenient way to pay for online purchases and has a reputation for safety and security. But scammers still find a way to use PayPal to help them steal products.
Scammers take advantage of PayPal's buyer protection program to scam sellers out of their money and items for sale.
Multiple free money scams that easily fall under the “too good to be true” scams that target loyal PayPal users with promises of free PayPal money.
Bitcoin may be the new way to make money, but it's also become one of the fastest ways to lose money quickly, thanks to the rise of cryptocurrency scammers.
Getting scammed isn't fun, and there's often little you can do to recoup your losses, but there are steps you should take to protect yourself.
You may not pay much attention to your credit score until you need to apply for credit, but we have important reasons why your credit shouldn't be out of sight, out of mind.
The great thing about using PayPal when buying or selling things is that you're (for the most part) protected from fraud and scammers.
If you've been scammed on Cash App, there are a few things you can try to get your money back, but you need to act fast.
This case shows just why you need to be aware of SIM swapping and how to protect your cell phone number from criminals like this.
After a 3-year long scam, Angela Mirabella and six others have been indicted on several charges, including grand theft.
Taking a chance on a fake COVID-19 vaccination card seems like an easy way to get around requirements, but think again before you land yourself in prison.
Sometimes it just safer not to pick up calls from unknown phone numbers.
Nike is taking a stand against counterfeiters and stopping fake products before they hit U.S. soil.