Photo Credit: Reuters
Scammers impersonating Elon Musk stole over $2 million (roughly Rs. 14.63 crore) in cryptocurrency since October last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US consumer protection body, reported on Monday. The FTC's new data also shows that nearly 7,000 people have been defrauded since October 2020, reporting losses in bogus cryptocurrency investments, adding up to over $80 million (roughly Rs. 585.43 crore). These scams, it says, can happen in many ways and they are “full of fake promises and fake guarantees”.
A common form of scam, according to the FTC, involves a promise that a celebrity associated with cryptocurrency will multiply the money you send in digital currency and then return it. The scammers also use online dating sites to sweet-talk people into bogus crypto investments in the name of love.
What's even more striking is that many people in their 20s and 30s have lost more money on investment scams than any other type of fraud, the FTC report stated, and noted that Elon Musk was a popular figure for scammers to impersonate.
It has also issued a series of instructions for potential cryptocurrency investors. It suggests the investor search for the company as well as the digital currency name, plus “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.”
It says scammers often promise you'll make money quickly, or that you'll get big payouts or guaranteed returns. "They might offer you free money paid in cash or cryptocurrency — but, even if there's a celebrity endorsement, don't buy it," says the body.
It has also warned people against anyone who says you have to pay by cryptocurrency, wire transfer, or gift card, adding that such a person is a scammer. If you pay, there's usually no way to get your money back.
Musk, a cryptocurrency enthusiast, tweets about Bitcoin, the world's oldest and largest digital currency, and Dogecoin (price in India), the Shiba Inu dog-themed crypto, almost on a regular basis. Last week, Tesla, which has invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, suspended vehicle purchase using the same digital currency, citing environmental concerns. The decision plunged Bitcoin (price in India) to its two-month low.
A day after the suspension, Musk clarified his stance on cryptocurrency, saying “To be clear, I strongly believe in crypto, but it can't drive a massive increase in fossil fuel use, especially coal”.
The SpaceX CEO, who has referred to himself as "Dogefather" in the past, then said that he was working with Dogecoin developers to improve “system transaction efficiency”, adding the currency had potential.
Earlier, this month, Musk had called Dogecoin a "hustle" on Saturday Night Live, a comedy sketch show that he guest-hosted.