Scammers are aiming to “fatten up” unwary cryptocurrency investors before making off with their dough as part of a “pig butchering” scheme, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warns.
“In Florida, we embrace emerging technology and innovation, but consumers must always stay on guard for scams, especially as new financial products like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become increasingly popular,” Patronis said.
The scheme is a form of “romance scam” where ostensible online dating paramours convince their partner to invest more and more sums into a fake cryptocurrency investment.
“Reports say cryptocurrency scams have bilked millions out of unsuspecting crypto investors; many of which were scammed through online dating apps over the course of several months,” Patronis said in his Wednesday statement.
“Just like with any major financial decision, consumers should do research and never transfer funds to someone you think is suspicious, untrustworthy, and whose identity you haven’t verified. You may as well kiss your money goodbye.”
Patronis offered three tips from the Federal Trade Commission to spot and avoid cryptocurrency schemes: Stay away from any entity demanding payment upfront in cryptocurrency — “that’s always a scam” — avoid rosy promises of large, quick returns, and don’t mix online dating advice with investment advice.
“If you meet someone on a dating site or app, and they want to show you how to invest in crypto, or asks you to send them crypto, that’s a scam,” the release from Patronis’ office states.
“If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com,” Patronis stated. “Always remember, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it is.”
Patronis oversees the Department of Financial Services and the Office of Financial Regulation and has supported embracing the technology of cryptocurrency while arguing for clear oversight of the new form of money, which is generally unregulated, making it a favored form of currency for criminals.