Whether it's through social media hacks, or luring victims to fake websites, fraudsters are working to convince people to enter into the world of cryptocurrency where they can steal and be gone without a trace. News5 shows us how it's happening and what local consumer advocates want us all to keep in mind.
One of the most frustrating situations you can find yourself in is knowing your social media accounts have been hacked and someone is using your name and likeness to try to trick friends and family into clicking links or falling for scams. One of the areas fraudsters are looking to get paid right now is in the realm of cryptocurrency.
22-year-old Mary Peplin has tried and tried to recover her instagram account for more than two weeks now, but the hackers are making it tough.
"They acted so fast, they changed your email, they changed your password, and then they turn on 2 step verification. There's absolutely no way in," said Peplin.
Using her profile the fraudsters began posting messages in an attempt to trick her followers into believing she could help them make money with cryptocurrency.
"So now my face and my profile is now virtually being used to run a cash app and bitcoin scam to ruin other people's lives," said Peplin.
A 2021 report from NortonLifeLock, in partnership with The Harris Poll, shows one out of every four Americans (25%) detected unauthorized access to an account or device over the past year.
In many cases now, fraudsters are working to get people to invest in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin allowing them to steal money while leaving the victims in most cases without any options to recover it.
By the time the calls come into Adah Rodriguez's office at the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado it's often too late.
"Absolutely cryptocurrency is really dangerous because of the lack of regulation," said Rodriguez.
Fraudsters have hit people hard in southern Colorado this year.
"When you're going to make an investment you're not going to invest you know $50 typically. It's usually thousands of dollars, or double digits right? So, we've seen consumers lose close to $10,000," said Rodriguez.
She suggests people do everything they can to secure social media accounts and to verify websites before interacting with them.
These steps are an important start for improving social media account security:
- strong password
- two factor authentication
- Request log-in confirmations sent to your email.
"I think scammers use social media for just about every type of scam out there and people continue to fall victim, so the scammers continue to use it. So, as much as you can protect your social media the better," said Rodriguez.
As Peplin continues to try to get back into her social media accounts she says unfortunately people she knows have already paid the fraudsters who got to them by using her account.
So how do the hackers get into your account in the first place? Well, if you use the same email and password for multiple accounts across the web and have been a part of a data breach there is a chance your information was bought and sold on the dark web. So, you may want to change your passwords just to be safe.
Consumer protection experts also warn we should always take steps to be extra careful when dealing in cryptocurrency.