US intelligence agencies expect an increase in the number of financial frauds using cryptocurrencies. They urge cryptocurrency owners to be careful.

Fraudsters are stepping up their activities against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated fear among the population, the FBI warns. As stated in their message published on the FBI website, criminals try to snatch the opportunity and take advantage of the tense situation in the world in order to trick people, and they use cryptocurrencies to hide their traces. The FBI letter lists possible theft schemes and extortions of cryptocurrencies:

1) Blackmail. Criminals previously sent letters in which they claimed to get access to some personal information or videos of an intimate nature, and demanded a ransom in bitcoins for non-disclosure of this information. “With the advent of COVID-19, there is a new twist on this scam. The correspondence claims that the writer will both release your information and infect you and/or your family with coronavirus unless payment is sent to a Bitcoin wallet.”

2) Donation. Fraudsters misuse people not only to steal funds, but also to launder already stolen assets. “The so-called “donation” is likely money stolen from others. Your acceptance and transfer of the stolen money is considered illegal money mule activity and potentially unlicensed money transmission.”

3) Payment for non-existent treatment or equipment. Fraudsters lure customers from trusted e-commerce sites and promise to deliver goods after receiving payment to personal crypto-wallets, but in reality, they are not going to send anything to the buyer.

4) Investment scammers. Cybercriminals urge to invest in a new and supposedly promising cryptocurrency project, promising quick enrichment. “These scams typically involve scenarios that seem “too good to be true”—offering large monetary returns for a short-term, small investment.”