Billionaire Elon Musk has been quite vocal and engaging with the Bitcoin (BTC) and the crypto community recently, and crypto scammers are now making the most of the moment while duping investors for millions of dollars. As per the data released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday, May 17, Musk impersonators stole nearly $2 million from crypto investors over the last six months.
Crypto scams have been on the rise once again as the crypto market hit a $2.5 trillion market cap last week. The data published by the FTC shows that crypto scams have peaked during the first quarter of 2021.
As FTC reports, the thefts have part of giveaway scams wherein con artists pose as Elon Musk or other celebrities. These scammers then promise outsized returns against some minimum investment, but rather pocket all of the investors’ money right away. Speaking to The Independent a school teacher Julie Bushnell explained how she was a victim of the Musk “giveaway scam”.
She first went to a website that appeared like a BBC News article. Interestingly, the article noted that Tesla is giving away nearly half of its $1.5 billion Bitcoin purchase. Before realizing the scam, Bushnell was tricked into sending $12,720 in bitcoin to the scammer’s wallet.
Last year, a scammer targeted the Twitter profiles of several such high-profile individuals and scammed investors making over $121,000 in Bitcoin. Some of the big names targetted were Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and several other people.
Crypto Scammers Made $80 Million Since October 2020
The FTC data puts a light on the overall scams that have rocked the crypto space since October 2020. FTC reports that nearly 7000 people have been a victim of these bogus crypto investments siphoning off nearly $80 million worth of investors’ money.
Well, just to give an idea, this was 12x or 1100% more than the crypto thefts reported during the same period – October to March – during the previous year. FTC notes that this data only represents the scams that were reported by the consumers. The actual data and number of scams could be much higher.
Young investors in the age group of 20 to 49 were more likely to be a victim of such crypto scams. On average, an individual investor lost around $1900. As NBC News reports, apart from impersonating just high-profile individuals, scammers are also impersonating businesses and government bodies.
Some investors have reportedly lost money to fraudsters posing as popular exchanges like Coinbase. Others have reportedly deposited cash into Bitcoin (BTC) ATM machines claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. There have been also a few bogus crypto-mining schemes duping investors of their money.