US Marshals, FBI warn of fraudsters demanding crypto payments

The United States Marshals and the FBI have warned the public of impostors who are impersonating government officials to defraud people. The scammers accuse their victims of a crime and then demand payment from them via crypto ATMs or other online payment methods.

The scammers call the victims and accuse them of a crime, mostly a minor one such as failing to report for jury duty. This is meant to scare the victims and make them ready to cooperate. The scammers will inform the victims that they can avoid arrest by making a payment.

They then ask their victims to make a deposit on a Bitcoin ATM. In some cases, “they tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card such as a Green Dot card or gift card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.”

The scammers have devised a number of ways to appear credible, the warning stated. These include providing information belonging to legitimate government officials such as badge numbers, names and courthouse addresses. In other cases, they even spoof their phone numbers on caller IDs and make it seem as if they are calling from a government agency.

The U.S. Marshals, a federal law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice, urged any victim of such scams to report to their local FBI office. They can also report to the Federal Trade Commission, “which has the ability to detect patterns of fraud from the information collected and share that data with law enforcement.”

The agency didn’t reveal whether the recent warning was as a result of an increase in this type of scam. However, this fraud must be prevalent as this is the second warning in less than two months. In November, the agency warned of a similar type of scam where the fraudsters solicit for payment in crypto, usually through a crypto ATM.

Crypto-related fraud has continued to grow despite efforts by government agencies, popular figures and the media to educate people. As CoinGeek reported, crypto scammers made over $4 billion in 2019. This is almost thrice the $1.7 billion lost in 2018. However, it’s worth noting that the infamous PlusToken accounted for $2.9 billion by itself.

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