FBI warns of fake law firms targeting crypto scam victims

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The FBI is warning of cybercriminals posing as law firms and lawyers that offer cryptocurrency recovery services to victims of investment scams and steal funds and personal information.

The latest alert is an update to similar warning from the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) that alerted of an increase in scams involving fake services for recovering digital assets.

Posing as lawyers

The FBI says that fraudsters trick victims of the legitimacy of the service by claiming a collaboration with government agencies like the FBI and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

They also build credibility by referencing real financial institutions and money exchanges in their communication with the victims. This tactic gives a false sense of authorization and capability to trace and recover lost funds.

According to the FBI, among the common claims the scammers include:

Request victims to provide personal or banking information to get their money back.
Request victims to state the judgment amount they seek from the initial fraudster.
Request victims to pay a portion of fees upfront, with the balance due when funds are recovered.
Direct victims to pay back taxes and other fees to recover their funds.

The phenomenon has increased lately, with statistics from the IC3 showing that victims of secondary cryptocurrency recovery scams paid over $9 million to fraudsters between February 2023 and February 2024.

Recovery of lost digital assets

State-level authorities and federal intelligence agencies can, under certain circumstances, track stolen crypto, freeze it, and possibly divert it to safe wallets to be redistributed back to victims.

However, these services come with no charge and victims are not contacted proactively to with requests to provide more personal information or to pay fees.

It is important to note that no private sector entity is authorized to issue seizure orders, so anyone making such claims on social media, in internet ads, and comments is likely a scammer looking for fresh victims.

Whenever people are met with claims about capability to recover stolen crypto, they should thoroughly research the company online before they share any personal information or send payments.

If you have fallen victim to scams or suspect you have been contacted by fraudsters, it is recommended that you file a report at the IC3 portal, including as many details as possible about the scammer and financial transaction information.