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Omaha woman warns Bitcoin endorsement scam

Cryptocurrency has become a hot investment.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:46 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Cryptocurrency has become a hot investment but here’s a warning about giving your money to the wrong people.

Con artists are hacking social media accounts and pitch a good deal as your friend then they use unsuspecting investors to lure in others who lose money.

An Instagram message from a friend convinced Ariana Castanon to invest $500 in Bitcoins.

“Oh, such a hot craze I want to make fast money. I’m a broke student right now going to nursing school so I’m like ok maybe this will help me out.”

But the message came from scammers pretending to be a trusted person. A Metro Community College cyber security expert suspects how the Instagram account got hacked.

“You need to log in to verify your user name and password otherwise your account will be shut off. If they see anything like that then they need to verify if it’s legitimate or not,” said Gary Sparks, MCC cyber security.

Not only fooled by scammers into paying for Bitcoins by Cash App but Ariana is victimized again.

They even had you record a testimonial before you got the money.

“Yeah, I’m like this is totally wrong. Just invested $500 from my tax refund and got about close to 10K,” said Castanon.

She deleted her post but still gets testimonials from others.

“I invested in Bitcoin money and earn a huge profit,” said the investor.

So be leery of those testimonials.

”Oh yeah, please do.”

But it’s not just words scammers send numbers and graphs to convince victims their investment of $500 is growing so send more money.

”I’m like I can’t do it just give me my money back. And they’re like no we can’t,” said Castanon.

Phony Bitcoin investments are moving to the top of the Better Business Bureau scam chart.

“Already we’ve seen an uptick in the number of reports and number of dollars lost. So as this industry is more and more prevalent, people talk about it more and more, more and more victims are going to be impacted,” said Josh Planos, Better Business Bureau.

A return 20 times more than Ariana’s cash investment in Bitcoins has materialized and her money disappeared. But what came back to her is a motherly warning.

“Fast money is dangerous money,” said Castanon.

A bit of sound advice.

Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau about Bitcoin investment scams.

  • Guard your wallet. If you buy cryptocurrency, the security of the wallet is of prime importance. If you lose the key, then your funds are gone permanently.
  • Look carefully at email addresses and website addresses. Phishing scams often try to trick people into logging in and then capture the login credentials. Those then can be used to steal money. Looking for an exchange with an internet search engine may lead to fake sites which advertise and impersonate real companies. Be especially careful when viewing these on a phone.
  • Do not pay for products with cryptocurrency. Be careful if someone asks you to pay with Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. No one with the government will ever ask for this form of payment.
  • Beware of fake recovery companies. Scam companies sometimes claim that they can recover stolen money – for a fee. These are usually scammers.
  • Watch out for fake reviews. Scammers often create fake reviews for their own companies.
  • Be wary of celebrity endorsements. It can be tempting to rely on a prominent figure who has invested in cryptocurrency. But those endorsements are often not authorized and even if they are, the celebrity may be paid for the effort and may not know more about it than you do.
  • Be careful about claims made on social media. This is the most common place for people to encounter investment scams.
  • Be wary of “friends” who reach out to you on social media and tell you how they made money with cryptocurrency. Accounts are frequently compromised. Call your friend by phone to see if it is really them.
  • Only download apps from Google Play or the App Store. Trusted app stores do not eliminate the threat of app scams, but they do offer a basic level of protection. Be careful with apps. Some contain malicious software.
  • Do not believe promises of guaranteed returns. No one can guarantee how an investment will perform.
  • Seek help and support. Cybercrime Support Network offers a free, confidential support program for romance scam survivors.

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