The FBI is warning of a new scam that’s targeting older Americans.
According to new data by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, a growing number of seniors have fallen victim to cryptocurrency scams.
"A lot of times you see these calls and these scams emanate from Southeast Asia," said Michael Balboni, former Homeland Security adviser for the state of New York and President of Redland Strategies.
The victims were taken for more than a billion dollars in crypto rip-offs in 2022, an 84% increase in losses from the previous year. Officials say most of these scams were investment related.
Balboni said the average amount lost has been $35,000.
"Out of the blue, someone calls and says, 'Mr. so-and-so, we'd love to have you consider investments', and what typically happens is they have this whole script that they get through when they say, you know, ‘Have you seen that 250% valuation in investments for cryptocurrency?’" said Balboni.
The crime against those 60 and older is particularly alarming given the fact that more than half have admitted to having little or no knowledge of cryptocurrencies.
Balboni says the criminals are aggressive, and often times form a relationship with their victim.
"Then they bring pressure and say, alright, so we need you to move fast because this window and the investment is going to close and you know, you should talk about your retirement account, let's leverage your retirement account, where's your banking and who's got your pension," he said.
The FBI warns people to watch for unsolicited messages, emails and social media posts that promote investment opportunities or giveaways.
He gave these three tips as red flags: "Unsolicited. You didn't ask for it; it suddenly emerges. Second, there's a pressure associated with it, you must act quickly. Third, is they want you to send something of value or share personal information. Those three things usually denote that this is not legit."
Meanwhile, keep in mind that once you give the scammers the information they are asking for, within minutes or even seconds they have your money and it’s almost impossible to get it back.