The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning about a new tactic being used to defraud victims of cryptocurrency scams.

This update follows Alert Number I-081123-PSA, published on August 11, 2023, which highlighted an increase in companies falsely claiming to recover funds lost in cryptocurrency investment scams.

Fraudsters posing as lawyers from fictitious law firms are contacting scam victims through social media and other messaging platforms, offering their services to recover lost funds. They claim to be authorized to investigate fund recovery cases and often assert they have information on the victim’s case from the FBI, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), or other government agencies. In some cases, victims have reached out to these fraudsters through fake websites that appear legitimate, in hopes of recovering their funds.

To further their scam, these “lawyers” may:

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  • Request victims verify their identities by providing personal identifying information or banking details.
  • Ask victims to state the judgment amount they are seeking from the initial fraudster.
  • Demand a portion of fees upfront, with the balance due upon recovery of the funds.
  • Instruct victims to pay for back taxes and other fees to facilitate the recovery process.
  • Reference actual financial institutions and money exchanges to build credibility and advance their schemes.

Between February 2023 and February 2024, victims of cryptocurrency scams who were further exploited by fictitious law firms reported losses exceeding $9.9 million, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

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Tips to Protect Yourself

  • Be cautious of advertisements for cryptocurrency recovery services. Thoroughly research the company, and be skeptical of those using vague language, having a minimal online presence, or making bold promises about recovering funds.
  • If an unknown individual contacts you claiming they can recover stolen cryptocurrency, do not provide any financial or personal information, and do not send money.
  • Remember, law enforcement does not charge victims for investigating crimes. If someone claims to be affiliated with the FBI, contact your local FBI field office to verify their legitimacy.

Stay vigilant and protect yourself from further fraud by being aware of these deceptive tactics.