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What’s one of the best ways to spot a scam? Know how scammers tell you to pay. Scammers want you to pay them in ways that are hard to trace and hard to get your money back: like through a gift card, wire transfer, payment app, or cryptocurrency. Here, we’ll focus on that last one — cryptocurrency — and how to avoid cryptocurrency-related scams.
Let’s start at the beginning: cryptocurrency is a digital money you buy on your phone, computer, or at a cryptocurrency ATM. Bitcoin or Ether are some of the most well-known, but there are lots of others. Scammers like cryptocurrency because it doesn’t have the same legal protections as credit cards, and payments usually can’t be reversed.
So, what do scams that involve cryptocurrency typically look like? Scammers may call, pretend to be from a government agency and say you need to pay a fine — using cryptocurrency. Or they may pose as an online love interest who needs you to send money for an expensive medical procedure — using cryptocurrency. Or the scammer may offer you a job, but say you need to pay a fee before you get hired — using, you guessed it, cryptocurrency.
To avoid these and other scams, know that:
- Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency. No legitimate business or government agency is going to demand you pay with cryptocurrency — not to buy something, pay taxes or fines, and not to “protect” your money. That’s always a scam.
- Never pay a fee to get a job. If someone asks you to pay upfront for a job — with cryptocurrency or any other type of payment — or says to buy cryptocurrency as part of your job, it’s a scam.
- Never mix cryptocurrency and online dating. If you meet someone through online dating who asks you to send them cryptocurrency or wants to “help” you invest in crypto, that’s a scam.
Spot a cryptocurrency scam? Report it to the FTC: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.