US Attorney Dena J. King announced that law enforcement seized $547,000 worth of bitcoin from a criminal who conned an elderly person last year. The officials will return all funds to the victim.
Cracking Down a Crypto Scam
In its latest efforts to fight fraudulent activities involving cryptocurrencies, American officials confiscated more than $500,000 in bitcoin from a criminal. The latter drained the funds from an elderly Ashville resident last year, as the sum represented his retirement savings.
According to a recent announcement by the United States Department of Justice, the scammer deceived the victim that his personal data had been used to facilitate illicit operations such as drug trafficking and money laundering. The fraudster, who identified himself as Agent James Hoffman, told the man to deposit funds into a “secure” government account to protect himself.
Later on, the criminal advised the victim to purchase bitcoin through Coinbase’s application and transfer the crypto assets into the aforementioned account. The conned person used all his retirement savings, equaling around $547,000, to buy a little over 12 BTC.
Fortunately for him, Coinbase and the FBI launched an investigation and identified the scam.
In the aftermath, US Attorney Dena J. King ruled that the funds must be seized from the criminal and returned to the victim. The court official praised the joint efforts of the FBI and Coinbase. She also noted that crypto scams usually do not have such a happy end for victims:
“Government imposter scams are pervasive and can be financially and psychologically devastating for those who fall prey. Thankfully, in this instance, the fraud was detected quickly, and the stolen funds will be returned to the victim. Unfortunately, the majority of these cases do not share a similar ending.”
Vital Tips for Protection
The DOJ further disclosed that victims of such scams are often elderly people who do not have the necessary financial knowledge and thus can be easily deceived.
Criminals often introduce themselves as grandchildren to the elderly adults insisting on funds because they need to pay, rent, or repair a car.
Romance scams are also not absent. In many cases, older people are lonely, and fraudsters initiate contact by presenting themselves as their online dates. Upon seeing interest, criminals ask the victims to send digital assets to dubious accounts (funds that could sponsor a vacation or even organize a wedding).
To avoid falling into such traps, the DOJ recommends never sharing personal information with unfamiliar individuals. People must also never transfer funds to unknown addresses and not send gift cards, checks, or money orders.