MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Cryptocurrency trading has exploded in popularity, but criminals are taking advantage of the trend. The FBI says Americans lost around $1 billion to crypto scams last year.
CBS News correspondent Meghan Schiller spoke with a victim who was scammed by a scammer posing as one of her friends.
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It all started when a message appeared on Instagram.
“I was like his $200, and that’s a lot of money, but at the same time, like a little part of my brain was like, ‘Oh my god, if that happens, that’s gonna be awesome,'” said said Natasha Reina.
Reyna said a friend asked her to use Cash App and buy only $200 in cryptocurrency. For the money, she would see a huge, quick return.
“So I’m like I can pay my bills, my car off,” she said.
The Better Business Bureau says it’s a scam that has tripled in popularity.
Cybercriminals hack an unsuspecting person’s account and target their friends because the trust is already there.
Reyna said the person even gave her a link to see her money start growing, but then a red flag came.
Reyna explained, “$4,700…I was like now, give me that, you know, like I want to take that out, and they were like no, you have to reinvest $1,500.”
She stopped there and called the BBB.
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“Cryptocurrency scams were identified as the second riskiest scam last year, up significantly from seven spots the previous year,” said Caitlin Driscoll of the Better Business Bureau.
Reyna feels lucky to only be on 200, but won’t invest again without doing her research.
“It could be either really good or really bad. If you go there, you should really find out,” Reyna said.
The Better Business Bureau said most victims lost around $1,200.
If you want to invest in legit apps, crypto experts only download apps from your Google Play or Apple App Stores.
And don’t just click on links that appear on a routine Google search, as they could also lead you down the wrong path.
The FBI says to avoid crypto scams:
– Double and triple check of website URLs and all hyperlinks
–Never send crypto payments to people you meet online
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–Never trust anyone asking for direct payments or offering investment opportunities