FBI public alert targets fake digital assets investment applications

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a public alert to financial institutions and investors about fake digital assets investment applications that have so far made away with an estimated $42.7 million of investors’ funds. 

According to the advisory published by the bureau, cybercriminals have been successfully creating fraudulent investment platforms, which they promote online through various mobile application stores. 

“The FBI has observed cybercriminals contacting US investors, fraudulently claiming to offer legitimate cryptocurrency investment services, and convincing investors to download fraudulent mobile apps,” the warning said.

It added that the cybercriminals have also taken to replicating the web applications of digital assets companies and financial institutions to defraud investors. These replica apps use the logos and identifying information of legitimate companies. 

Since 2021, the security and intelligence agency has identified 244 victims of these fake apps. In one case, 28 victims lost $3.7 million after downloading and depositing digital assets in a wallet provided by an app that used the name and logo of an actual U.S. financial institution. 

In two other instances, an unidentified set of criminals created apps named Yibit and SuPay, into which victims deposited digital assets. In all the cases, the victims were asked to put in more funds to unlock their deposit when they tried to withdraw. 

To avoid falling victim to such scams, the FBI recommended that financial institutions inform their clients of official communication channels and clarify on time if they offer digital assets investment services. Investors were also advised to treat online offers with skepticism and report any suspicious platforms to the FBI. 

Scams continue to be a problem for the digital assets market

The FBI has previously warned of digital currency-related investment scams that have been growing on social media platforms. In an interview with CNBC, an FBI agent stated that the social media scams were especially a threat to the professional and business networking platform LinkedIn

The FBI has also recently added the name of the founder of OneCoin, Ruja Ignatova, to its top 10 most wanted list in a bid to increase its crackdown on digital assets fraudsters. 

Despite the efforts of the agency and several others, digital assets scams do not seem to be relenting. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report in June, digital assets scammers have stolen over $1 billion since 2021. 

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