The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a serious warning against cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and has told individuals not to get involved unless they are fully aware of the risks.
The FBI Is Warning Against Crypto Use
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency space has attracted a huge wave of malicious cyberactivity over the past year. Bitcoin and several other digital assets have seemingly shot up in price, and while things may not be looking stellar at press time, one needs to remember that bitcoin is trading six times higher than where it was in March of 2020.
Thus, the space has brought about several cyberthieves and other malicious actors looking to get their hands on funds that are not theirs and that they did not earn. Two of the biggest examples in recent weeks include the Colonial Pipeline and REvil. The first was intercepted by a group of hackers that demanded several million dollars in BTC be handed over to them before they unencrypted the data associated with the pipeline.
The FBI ultimately got involved in that case and managed to intercede before the hackers got what they requested. However, the second incident saw Russian hacking group REvil encrypt the data of more than 1,000 companies in regions such as the United States, Sweden, and New Zealand. In total, the group wanted $70 million in BTC before the data became available again. It is unclear if the situation has been resolved at the time of writing.
The alert issued by the FBI speaks of several ways in which cyberthieves can obtain one’s crypto assets. Among the methods mentioned include technical support fraud calls, identity theft, and SIM-swapping, which involves the overtaking of one’s cell phone to gain access to account login data.
The organization warns:
Cybercriminals are targeting cryptocurrency users, exchanges, and third-party payment platforms in the virtual asset industry, resulting in large amounts of financial loss to victims.
The FBI also stated that once money has been transferred over to accounts held or controlled by cyberthieves, it can be quite difficult to get it back. The government agency is telling all financial and crypto companies in America to consistently check email sources before opening them. In addition, it tells crypto users to always utilize multi-factor authentication when opening or creating accounts, and to keep an eye on company communications.
This Is Happening All Over the World
The threat of crypto fraud is prominent all over the world. In the United Kingdom, for example, law enforcement recently shut down a money laundering operation that held more than $250 million in BTC funds. Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty said in a recent statement:
While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop, we are increasingly seeing organized criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money.