It’s no longer news that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating fear among people. Also, criminals are taking advantage of the situation to steal fund and commit money laundering offences. Financial crimes associated with cryptocurrency have rapidly increased due to the development of advanced technology and the wide adoption of cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange, and people of all ages have fallen victim. Due to the rising physical and online presence of virtual asset service providers. The FBI has advised that people should be on the lookout to avoid falling a victim as crypto-criminals are exploring the COVID-19 outbreak to exploit people. Some of these schemes include threatening emails or letters which criminals use to demand payment in Bitcoin. Other forms are work from home scams, where users are required to make a donation into Bitcoin wallets. Criminals are fond of luring customers from trusted e-commerce sites selling products to prevent coronavirus, to unregulated messaging sites and persuade them to make payments in cryptocurrency for products that are not real.
Investment scam is another form of crime. Criminals pitch investment opportunity in cryptocurrency to take money from people. But in reality, the fraudsters take the money for personal use and hide their true identity using complex crypto-functionalities.
Considering that there are legitimate businesses online that accept cryptocurrency as payment, internet users need to take the following measures before making a payment.
- Verify that the vendor is legitimate.
- Verify that they accept cryptocurrency as a means of payment.
- Research thoroughly before accepting investment opportunities.
- Avoid using personal information and bank details for the work-from-home scheme.
- Reach out to law enforcement before validating any payments from extortion attempts.