You can’t accuse scammers of not keeping up with the times. Their latest trick is asking victims to pay with cryptocurrency. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “It involves an impersonator, a QR code, and a trip to a store (directed by a scammer on the phone) to send your money to them through a cryptocurrency ATM.”
These crooks can play this game in a number of ways. They sometimes try the old government impersonation scam where they call pretending to be from the IRS, Social Security Administration, or local law enforcement.
They might also impersonate a utility company or a major corporation with which you have an account. Sometimes they’ll claim you’ve won some type of prize but must pay taxes or fees to claim your prize. They’ll try tech support scams or even try to romance you online.
The approach may vary, but the endgame is always the same. Once they engage you, they’ll ask you for money. They’ll stay on the phone with you while walking you through the steps of withdrawing money from your accounts.
Then comes the twist. They’ll tell you to go to a cryptocurrency ATM and walk you step by step through the process of buying the cryptocurrency. Then they’ll send you a QR code that has their address embedded. You’ll be asked to scan that code, which will transfer the money to them. Poof… your money is gone forever and isn’t recoverable.
Just as with the old gift card scam, law enforcement, companies, the lottery … basically nobody legitimate will ask you to pay them with cryptocurrency.
If someone asks you, it’s a big fat scam.