Crypto Scams: Is This the New Wire Fraud?

Trina Stroedecke
Technology Editor

With concerns about handling money in person due to the pandemic, banks and financial institutions have been forced to enable several digital payments and transactions. Using digital payments in stores and restaurants provides many people with an extra sense of security knowing that they will not have to hand their credit card over to a cashier in order to make a payment. Available on their smartphone or smartwatch, all that is needed to make payments digitally is to hover over a card-reading machine and accept the charge. Similar to how you send money through Apple or Android Pay, cryptocurrency payments are also being introduced as payment methods, making it possible to pay merely using an app. With very little need to go to the bank and get physical cash or carry around checks, people should feel better knowing they won’t be as vulnerable to being robbed.

This seems safer, right? Not exactly.

The FBI has been following several criminals that have modernized what used to be most commonly known as wire fraud: cryptocurrency scamming. How this works is by convincing victims to send money in an almost impossible-to-be-traced method. Many times, victims are convinced to send the money because criminals impersonate victims’ family members, a romantic love interest, or a bank. Victims are told that there is a situation or that they are facing a problem that can be solved quickly by the victim sending money in different methods to the scammer. These methods can be by sending cryptocurrency through their phone, through an ATM, or just by simply scanning a QR code.

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Cryptocurrency ATMs make it much easier for cryptocurrency to be sent to scammers (Photo courtesy of

The “modern update” to this wire transfer scheme is that it can be done with no witnesses. With wire transfers, victims often had to fill out a form at the bank and hand it to a bank teller. The victim would have longer to think about the actions and more than likely, realize their mistake while filling out the form. By making a transfer as effortless as scanning a QR code, criminals can talk their way into situations, and victims have less time to consider whether or not to send money to a complete stranger.

The best part? Scanning a QR code or using a Bitcoin transfer app is ingrained in basically all Gen Z brains, so the scammer does not have to explain how to make the transfer – which makes victims feel like they are in control of the transaction (spoiler alert: they’re not).

If you’re worried about being Crypto scammed, follow this simple rule: If someone you don’t know asks for you to send money, don’t do it.


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