A new, disturbing trend is emerging today. In 2022, the FBI reported that $10 Billion was lost to online fraud, according to CNN.
It’s not just the usual types of fraud you think of, such as ransomware (where a fraudster takes over your computer and says you need to pay money to get control back) or fishing (where someone clicks on an email or text link and enters their user name and password), or where someone asks the user to get gift cards to help them out of trouble. Or, the ever-popular tech support fraud, where the caller pretends to be tech support and takes over the victim’s computer.
I’ve had several clients recently that became victims of a different, newer type of fraud. They meet someone online, on a dating app or a chat-based app, and that person gets close to the victim, and becomes their friend. They mention a type of investing that looks great. They invest with an app on their phone, through some legitimate looking apps. They may even be linked to certain “wallets” online. Much of the investments are in cryptocurrency, which is popular, and can be a legitimate investment.
Then, the victim invests a small amount of money, like $1,000.00, and they look online and see their investments going up in value very quickly. That establishes trust in the investments. Then the victim keeps investing larger amounts of money. After all, they saw a small investment go up, it looks good, right? Then, the victim starts cashing retirement accounts, using home-equity loans, borrowing with loans or cash advances on credit cards, thinking they’ll get all that money back, and more!!
The victim then tries to get the money out, and the scammers say that they need to pay more money in, and make excuses, such as, they need to pay more money for taxes. Then, the victim realizes that the “investment” really wasn’t an investment at all, but rather a very sophisticated scam!! By that time, the scammers have taken their money offshore, and become untouchable by local authorities!!
The victims have lost their money, and many have also ended up in severe debt as well!! The victims have reported these scams to the FBI and local authorities. There are limited things that the victim can do to try to recover the money.
Here is an investor alert from the SEC.
The victims may need to file for bankruptcy protection for relief on the debt they incurred. It is important to be vigilant, and question each and every investment, and, the saying “if it seems to good to be true, it usually is” holds true. These investments are so sophisticated, that many intelligent people have been scammed.
Contact us if you have been scammed. We can help, and point you in the right direction.
Daniel J. Winter