Do Phishing emails, unknown “how are you” texts, and Twitter instant messages from people you don’t know sound familiar? It could all be a part of a Massachusetts ROMANCE scam that’s on the rise.
As of March of this year the FBI is reporting a rise of a spike in cryptocurrency investment schemes. They found that criminals, typically based overseas, defrauded victims of more than two BILLION US dollars in 2022 using these schemes, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
The Boston FBI reports that these scams start with innocent relationships, that at first, build closeness and trust, targeting people that have income, and end with convincing you to invest in fraudulent crypto schemes. These creepy people, or criminals make up fake identities to build a rapport with their victims. They find you on dating apps, social media or messaging apps.
FBI Agent Speaks To WCVB
WCVB talked to FBI Special Agent Matt Giacobbi:
Giacobbi says cryptocurrency-centric scams are skyrocketing, jumping from $907 million in fraud nationwide in 2021 to more than $2.5 billion just a year later in 2022. The numbers are even worse in the four New England states under the FBI’s Boston Division, where crypto scams have quadrupled – rising from $15 million in losses in 2021 to $60 million last year.
One poor victim started with investing $500. Because the criminals are so sophisticated, they faked an investment website, that gave this victim early earnings, which encouraged him to invest more over time. He lost $300,000 in the scam.
According to Boston FBI:
Criminals coach victims through the investment process, show them fake profits, and encourage victims to invest more. When victims attempt to withdraw their money, they are told they need to pay a fee or taxes.
When victims try to get their money back, they cannot and the person who introduced you to the “investment” evaporates into thin air. It’s worse than a movie. It’s real. Are you or someone you know feel like you’re being targeted? The FBI requests victims report these types of fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov.
Also, here’s the address and phone of the local FBI office:
201 Maple Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
So let’s take a look at some tips to help you avoid being caught in a Massachusetts ROMANCE scam.