The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says over 46,000 people Americans have reported losing more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency to scams between January 2021 and March 2022.

This is a significant increase compared to last year’s report issued by the FTC, when the agency revealed that roughly $80 million were lost to cryptocurrency investment scams based on around 7,000 reports.

Today’s report aligns with the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report [PDF]. The U.S. law enforcement agency said that tens of thousands of reports pointed to over $1.6 billion in cryptocurrency losses.

“In 2021, the IC3 received 34,202 complaints involving the use of some type of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or Ripple,” the FBI said [PDF].

“While that number showed a decrease from 2020’s victim count (35,229), the loss amount reported in IC3 complaints increased nearly seven-fold, from 2020’s reported amount of $246,212,432, to total reported losses in 2021 of more than $1.6 billion.”

Today, the FTC also added that one in four dollars paid to scammers within the last year had been paid using cryptocurrency.

Based on FTC’s analysis of cryptocurrency-linked scam reports, almost half of all consumers said they were led to fraudsters via ads, posts, or messages on social media platforms.

Consumers are advised to look out for red flags that point to such scams, including:

  • anyone who claims they can guarantee profits or significant returns by investing in cryptocurrency;
  • people who require you to buy or pay in cryptocurrency; and
  • a love interest who wants to show you how to invest in cryptocurrency or send them cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency investment scams top the charts regarding the number of losses reported by U.S. consumers, totaling $575 million since January 2021.

“These scams often falsely promise potential investors that they can earn huge returns by investing in their cryptocurrency schemes, but people report losing all the money they ‘invest,'” the FTC said.

In July 2021, the FBI warned cryptocurrency owners of fraudsters actively targeting virtual assets while impersonating cryptocurrency exchange or payment platform support staff in phone calls initiated by online tech support scam victims.

Cryptocurrency owners are advised to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all cryptocurrency accounts, deny any requests to download and use remote access apps, and always contact exchanges and payment companies using official email addresses and phone numbers.

You can find more information on cryptocurrency scams and how to report them on FTC’s website.

SOURCE: Bleeping Computer