Scam through Bitcoin ads

There are currently many scammers operating in various ways to scam victims by exploiting their lack of knowledge about Bitcoin. With fake advertisements, websites, active telephone contact and promises of golden mountains, they try to convince targets to transfer bitcoins to them. They often pose as a ‘broker’ or other expert who is able to reinvest the money in order to make a lot of profit.

Victims are usually initially tricked with advertisements and fake reviews boasting huge profits. Often there is a modern-looking website that people are directed to and where they can register to make so-called investments. In reality, victims are cheated of money in this way and investments are usually not involved.

  • Victims often live under the delusion that their alleged investments are doing well. After all, on the website of the scammers, the amount seems to increase in value. In fact, the numbers on these websites are mostly meaningless and the money has long since been funneled away by the scammers. In some cases, withdrawal of a low amount is still possible because the scammers know how to gain extra trust, which can convince victims to transfer even more bitcoins.
  • Moreover, many people become victims more than once. In addition to fictitious profits, the scammers use various excuses to steal even more money. For example, by telling the victims that they can make more profit if they transfer even more money, or because there are costs that must be paid before the supposedly invested amount can be withdrawn.
  • After a previous scam, they also regularly pretend to represent the interests of victims. People who have previously been victims are approached again, with the scammers posing this time as a party claiming to take legal action. They are told that they can get the stolen money back by joining the initiative. To participate, the victim only needs to transfer a small amount of money. With that, the game starts again. Behind the scenes, it often concerns the same group of scammers, who try to get even more money from the same victims in a devious way.

How do you recognize scams?

  • People or websites that promise high returns that require you to buy bitcoins first
  • Foreign companies without an existing address
  • Foreign people calling or emailing you
  • Trading websites where you cannot withdraw money (or only small amounts)
  • People who take over your computer with, for example, TeamViewer or AnyDesk

Scammers are creative and persistent

The scammers are creative and go to great lengths to gain victims’ trust. They often use modern websites and proactively approach victims by telephone to support them in purchasing and sending bitcoins.

Sometimes they also provide technical support and let victims install programs like AnyDesk or Teamviewer. They take over the victim’s computer. In such cases, the damage can increase even further and there is a risk that personal data, contacts, login codes and other data will also be stolen.

The scammers often pose as legitimate companies, whether or not accompanied by fabricated success stories from well-known Dutch people or fictitious collaborations with companies. Other times, the opposite is the case and they pretend to involve the victims in a “clever method” of making money that shouldn’t really work, but would work. Victims usually receive detailed instructions on how to act and what answers to give when they are questioned by support departments. In this way, they are put under false pretenses for the crooks to work to avoid detection.

Old scam, new jacket

Although there is often talk of bitcoin-related scams, this form of scam is not a new phenomenon. Similar methods have also been used by scammers in the past on other supposedly good investment opportunities that later turned out to be fraudulent, such as investments in real estate, teak plantations and time-share apartments.

In this sense, Bitcoin is just another story scammers tell their victims. What is new is the use of bitcoin as a means of payment in the scam.

Are you being scammed?

Do you think you may be a victim of a scam? Then it is important to contact the police. If you have become a victim and the purchase went through Bitonic, the largest bitcoin company in the Netherlands, you can also contact the Bitonic support department for advice (click here for the link). Consumer protection is their top priority.

Also use the “check your provider” tool of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) to check whether a provider is known to them. Is your provider not listed? Then that is no guarantee that the company is legitimate.

Other media about Bitcoin related scams:

Scammed! paid attention to fraudulent bitcoin advertisements. Watch the episode here.

Also read RTL-Z’s article about bitcoin scams.

BrandpuntPlus also wrote about bitcoin-related scams. Read the article here.

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