FBI Publishes PSA About Tech Support Fraud Targeting Cryptocurrency Holders

FBI Publishes PSA About Tech Support Fraud Targeting Cryptocurrency Holders

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has published a public service announcement on March 28 warning about the prevalence of scammers posing as tech support for a variety of industries, including the cryptocurrency sector.

The announcement defines tech support fraud as a “criminal claiming to provide customer, security, or technical support in an effort to defraud unwitting individuals,” and references the increasing frequency of this type of fraud leading to criminals“pos[ing] as government agents, even offering to recover supposed losses related to tech support fraud schemes or to request financial assistance with ‘apprehending’ criminals.”

Tech support fraud, which can occur through the telephone, search engines, pop-ups, locked screens, and phishing emails, is now also being perpetrated through the new targets of virtual currency exchanges, according to the FBI’s PSA.

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The section on the new variations and trends of this type of fraud notes that virtual currency fraud has led to “individual victim losses often in the thousands of dollars.” The scam is carried out by a criminal who pretends to be a virtual currency service’s support representative in order to gain access to a crypto holder’s wallet, then transferring all of the crypto out while the fake “maintenance” is taking place, only to “cease all communication” and disappear with the funds.

The FBI suggests that the public update their ad-blocking and anti-virus software, examine customer support numbers found on search engines more carefully, and “resist[s] the pressure to act quickly” in online tech situations, as “criminals create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure the victim into immediate action.”

Victims of any tech support fraud scams are asked to immediately report the incidents in as much detail as possible to the IC3.

In January of this year, the IC3 warned the public about a different new method of cryptocurrency extortion – false death threats to individuals that requested crypto and fiat ransoms to spare their lives.

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Japan: Operator Of GMO Exchange Promises To Improve Data Security After Regulator Order

Japan: Operator Of GMO Exchange Promises To Improve Data Security After Regulator Order

GMO Internet, the operator of Japanese crypto exchange GMO Coin, has announced the establishment of a “Group Information Security Audit Office” in order to develop stronger security measures to protect customer information, according to a March 30 press release.

GMO Coin was one of the crypto exchanges that was sent a business improvement order by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) after a series of on-site inspections prompted by the January hack of crypto exchange Coincheck.

GMO Internet’s new group, run by “knowledgeable security expert” Takeshi Miyazaki, will include an external advisor on security as well. The establishment of this group aims to “protect important customer information from increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks by our highly secured countermeasures and pursue to improve group information security literacy and foster security personnel.”

A little over a week ago, on March 22, GMO Coin posted on their website that they had submitted their FSA-requested business improvement plan to the Kanto Local Finance Bureau.

GMO Coin added that they “sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and worry that our customers and stakeholders have incurred”, adding that:

“We deeply reflect on taking this administrative punishment seriously […] and steadily improve the system risk management system by implementing [an] improvemen[t] plan, so that we can offer service[s] [so] that customers can feel secure and safe.”

GMO Internet is also involved in crypto mining, having announced in September of last year that they planned on cornering 6 percent of the Bitcoin (BTC) mining market in 2018.

In the wake of the stricter regulatory supervision in Japan, two crypto exchanges decided to shut down earlier this week rather than work with regulators for compliance. Crypto exchange Binance has also taken its services away from Japan, announcing a new office in Malta, after receiving a warning from the FSA about the exchange’s unregistered status.