Cyberfraud victims are increasingly being asked to pay through Quick Response (QR) code and cryptocurrency ATMs. This makes recovery of payment impossible.
The FBI has seen an increase in scammers directing victims to use physical cryptocurrency ATMs and digital QR codes to complete payment transactions,” the federal law enforcement agency said.
These criminals use QR codes & cryptocurrency for fraudulent schemes, schemes that entail impersonation in which the scammer pretends to be a government, law enforcement, a legal office, or utility company representative.
The use of such tactics is also seen in romance schemes. These romance schemes entail the fraudster connecting with the victim online before requesting a payment.
The criminals seek money as a favour or a non-existent fine, depending on the scheme. Cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature creates challenges that make it difficult to recover. Once a victim makes the payment, the recipient instantly owns the cryptocurrency, and often immediately transfers the funds into an account overseas,” the FBI added.
“This differs from traditional bank transfers or wires where a payment transaction can remain pending for one to two days before settlement. It can also make law enforcement’s recovery of the funds difficult and can leave many victims with a financial loss.”
The FBI shared the following tips to help those targeted in such scams protect themselves:
- “Do not send payment to someone you have only spoken to online, even if you believe you have established a relationship with the individual.
- Do not follow instructions from someone you have never met to scan a QR code and send payment via a physical cryptocurrency ATM.
- Do not respond to a caller, who claims to be a representative of a company, where you are an account holder, and who requests personal information or demands cryptocurrency. Contact the number listed on your card or the entity directly for verification.
- Do not respond to a caller from an unknown telephone number, who identifies as a person you know and requests cryptocurrency.
- Practice caution when an entity states they can only accept cryptocurrency and identifies as the government, law enforcement, a legal office, or a utility company. These entities will likely not instruct you to wire funds, send checks, send money overseas, or make deposits into unknown individuals’ accounts.
- Avoid cryptocurrency ATMs advertising anonymity and only requiring a phone number or e-mail. These cryptocurrency ATMs may be non-compliant with US federal regulations and may facilitate money laundering. Instructions to use cryptocurrency ATMs with these specific characteristics are a significant indicator of fraud.
- If you are using a cryptocurrency ATM and the ATM operator calls you to explain that your transactions are consistent with fraud and advises you to stop sending money, you should stop or cancel the transaction.”