Law enforcement fighting back against scammers working long-term to steal thousands

The Virtual Currency Unit at the district attorney’s office started half a year ago, and in that time $4 million has been reported lost.

Katelynn Ulrich and Adolfo Carrion

Apr 4, 2024, 10:16 PM

Updated 54 days ago

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A growing scam involves some scammers building trust with victims to get their money, including making them invest tens of thousands into cryptocurrency.
The term for this long-term scheme is called "pig butchering," which requires a massive investment of time. One anonymous Brooklyn woman says she was a victim of this scam.
The woman says she met her scammer through Hinge, and over time, her "love interest" coached her into investing over $100,000 in crypto, which he ended up stealing.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says that his office hasn’t made any arrests or recovered much money from these scams, but that the office is working to stop those scams in their tracks.
The DA’s office has cracked down against fake crypto investment sites like CoinFormat, which were used alongside 79 other fake sites that have scammed people of thousands of dollars.
The Virtual Currency Unit at the district attorney’s office started half a year ago, and in that time $4 million has been reported lost. They add that ethnic communities are targeted the most by these scams.
The district attorney shared the following warning signs of someone trying to lure a victim into a cryptocurrency scam:
  • You get a “wrong message” text from a stranger who attempts to start a friendship and talks about how much money they’ve made by investing in cryptocurrency.
  • You are added to a group chat on WhatsApp or Telegram that offers advice on how to invest in cryptocurrency with promises of getting rich quickly.
  • Someone on Facebook brags about how much money they have made in cryptocurrency and tells you they can help you get rich.
  • Someone you’ve never met in-person starts giving you cryptocurrency investment advice and promises returns on investments that seem too good to be true.
  • You are directed to download an app to track your investments from a cryptocurrency website for a company you’ve never heard of before, not from an official mobile app store.
  • The financial advisor or customer support for a cryptocurrency website communicates with you through Telegram or WhatsApp.
  • You are asked to make cryptocurrency investments by giving large amounts of cash to couriers and company repres
  • You can make small withdrawals at the start but can’t withdraw any large amounts without having to pay a tax or additional fee.
The district attorney also shared the following tips on how to protect people from cryptocurrency scams:
  • Don’t trust cryptocurrency investment opportunities that seem too good to be true.
  • Do not make cryptocurrency investments based on the advice of someone you’ve never met in person.
  • Don’t download investment apps from unverified cryptocurrency investment websites.
  • Don’t install apps that force you to override your phone’s security features.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a company. Ask a friend, family
  • Never allow download programs such as AnyDesk that allows remote access to your computer.
  • Do not pay more money in order to try and recover your investment from a cryptocurrency website.
  • Check whether a cryptocurrency exchange is licensed to operate in New York State by going to https://www.dfs.ny.gov/who_we_supervise or calling the New York State Department of Financial Services hotline at 800-342-3736.


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