Scam Victim Recovers $500K in Bitcoin from US Authorities

The US Department of Justice has successfully returned bitcoin stolen by a government impersonator to an elderly person.

Dena J. King, United States Attorney, announced Tuesday the “forfeiture and restoration of stolen cryptocurrencies to an elderly man who was a victim of a government impostor hoax.”

On August 31, 2017, individuals posing as government officers stole a total of 12.164699 bitcoins worth about $574,766 from the elderly man’s Coinbase account.

After a six-month investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Coinbase, the scammer was discovered and the victim’s stolen funds were seized.

The DOJ said that “the confiscated cryptocurrency was forfeited to the United States government and will be refunded to the victim.”

Scaring The Victims

The scammers conned the Asheville man into believing he was involved in a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy. Thus, the victim’s whole estate would be frozen.

According to the DOJ, one of the fraudsters presented himself as “agent James Hoffman” and instructed the victim to deposit money into an account for the government to verify that his assets were not involved in illegal activity.

After obtaining the victim’s personal information and financial account information, the suspects requested that the victim “spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of his retirement assets” to purchase bitcoin via the cryptocurrency platform Coinbase.

No Bitcoin Or Financial Knowledge

According to the Federal Trade Commission, North Carolinians reported more than 64,000 financial crimes totaling $93 million in damages last year, exceeding the $74 million record set in 2020. (FTC),

According to the Department of Justice, scam victims are usually older individuals who lack fundamental financial abilities or knowledge of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and hence make ideal targets for scammers.

Criminals frequently act as grandkids and demand money from elderly victims on the excuse of an urgent medical or power bill, or even the tuition for their children’s school.

Additional Precautions

Due to the increase in financial frauds, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office warn the public, particularly seniors, to exercise caution when engaging in financial transactions.

Here are some ways to avoid being scammed:

  • If it’s too good to be true, be mindful of its legitimacy.
  • Don’t openly share personal information with anyone, even with the people you know.
  • Be skeptical of sudden lottery wins and prizes.
  • Don’t click on pop-up ads and sketchy messages that appear in your email.
  • Block spam emails and anonymous calls.
  • Try to minimize sending gift cards, money orders, and cryptocurrency with strangers.
  • Don’t give your bank account details unless the transaction is secured and legitimate.
  • Do not transact with anonymous users.

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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