The FBI Warns of a Spike in Cryptocurrency Investment Schemes

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The FBI warns of a spike in cryptocurrency investment schemes. Criminals, typically based overseas, defrauded victims of more than two billion US dollars in 2022 using these schemes, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Chart illustrating the steps in a cryptocurrency investment scheme. Step 1: Approach Victims. Step 2: Build Trust. Step 3: Introduce Crypto Investment Scheme. Step 4: Steal Funds.

The schemes are socially-engineered and trust-enabled, usually beginning with a romance or confidence scam and evolving into cryptocurrency investment fraud. Criminals use fictitious identities to develop relationships and build rapport with victims. Criminals target victims using dating applications (apps), social media platforms, professional networking sites, or encrypted messaging apps.

Once trust is established with victims, criminals introduce the topic of cryptocurrency and claim to have expertise, or an affiliation with experts, who can help potential investors achieve financial success. Criminals then convince victims to use fraudulent websites or apps, controlled by the criminals, to invest in cryptocurrency. Criminals coach victims through the investment process, show them fake profits, and encourage victims to invest more. When victims attempt to withdraw their money, they are told they need to pay a fee or taxes. Victims are unable to get their money back, even if they pay the imposed fees or taxes.

Newer iterations of the schemes include liquidity mining and play-to-earn schemes.


  • If an unknown individual contacts you, do not release any financial or personal identifying information (PII) and do not send any money.
  • Do not invest per the advice of someone you meet solely online.
  • Confirm the validity of any investment opportunity or cryptocurrency investment website or app.
  • If you already invested funds and believe you are a victim of a scheme, do not pay any additional fees or taxes to withdraw your money.
  • Do not pay for services that claim to be able to recover lost funds.

The FBI requests victims report these types of fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI IC3 at

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Source: Alert Number I-031423-PSA

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