FBI Warns of Crypto Exchange Support Scams

The crypto space is host to many scams, and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning investors of the latest scheme where scammers pose as exchange customer support seeking personal information or access to funds.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a public service announcement, describing the scam:

“Criminals may pose as a security, customer, or technical support representative offering to resolve such issues as a compromised e-mail or bank account, a virus on a computer, or to assist with a software license renewal. Some recent complaints involve criminals posing as technical support representatives for GPS, printer, or cable companies, or support for virtual currency exchangers.”

IC3 says that in 2017 alone, they received nearly 11,000 complaints related to this form of tech support fraud. The losses from the claims total to nearly $15 million in lost funds – a year-over-year increase of 86% from 2016.

The PSA also reveals that the scammers have become more aggressive, even posing as government agents:

“As this type of fraud has become more commonplace, criminals have started to pose as government agents, even offering to recover supposed losses related to tech support fraud schemes or to request financial assistance with “apprehending” criminals.”

According to the PSA, the fraud occurs via telephone, pop-up messages, phishing emails, and even search engine advertising – which may be what prompted Google and others to ban crypto-related ads from their advertising platforms. An example of such outreach can be seen below, where a fraudulent customer service email was sent from a scammer posing as a Coinbase support member:

IC3 offers some important tips for investors to take to protect their investments and personal information, such as installing malware protection, and to check the source of any outreach to ensure it is legitimate before providing important information.

Individuals that have fallen victim to such scams are encouraged to file a complaint at ic3.gov. IC3 recommends victims document all pertinent information and correspondence, and be as descriptive as possible when filing reports.