Online scammers target lonely hearts and bitcoin fans

Online scammers target lonely hearts and bitcoin fans

Cybercrooks are increasingly targeting lonely hearts and cryptocurrency enthusiasts, scamming them out of their savings, according to the FBI.

In its annual report, the bureau's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says that it received more than 269,000 complaints in 2014 with an adjusted dollar loss of more than $800 million.

This is down on the 2011 record of 314,000 complaints but the centre notes that a couple of specific types of scams became popular last year.

One is a romance scheme in which crooks assume the identities of military personnel and search dating sites, chat rooms and social media for victims that they then seduce with well-rehearsed scripts painting scenarios involving personal hardships before asking for money.

More than $86 million was taken from 5883 victims through this kind of confidence fraud in 2014, $68.5 million of it from women over 40.

Bitcoin fans were also popular targets last year, with the number of schemes reported doubling on 2013 and netting millions for criminals. Among the most popular scams are receiving payment from cryptocurrency mining equipment and then simply not sending it, and hacking wallets and blackmailing victims.

More traditional but still popular wheezes include real estate fraud, which cost victims nearly $20 million, auto fraud, responsible for $56 million in losses, and intimidation scams worth $16 million.

Comments: (0)