Cryptocurrency scams on TikTok are on the rise. How to stay safe

If you've ever seen one of these videos, it was probably a scam, experts say.  (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

If you’ve ever seen one of these videos, it was probably a scam, experts say. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)


Don’t be fooled by the lure of quick cryptocurrency money touted by TikTok users, experts say. Chances are it’s a scam.

The Better Business Bureau has sounded the alarm about a growing number of scammers using TikTok to trick victims into cryptocurrency scams, which could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

“Beware of this TikTok scam, which promises to turn a few hundred dollars worth of cryptocurrency into thousands in no time,” the BBB said in a press release.

Many scam videos on TikTok begin the same way: someone shows off a pile of cash to get the viewer’s attention and explains that they got rich investing in cryptocurrency. Scam artists try to convince victims that they can also get rich quick with just a few simple steps.

“The creator says he made the stack of money in just a few days investing in cryptocurrency,” the BBB said of the scam. “You may not know much about cryptocurrency, but this ‘investor’ can help you get the same kind of return for a small fee. Even better, they have a 100% guarantee that they can triple your money in less than a week.

Eventually, scammers will attempt to convince victims to remit fees and payments via online wallets such as Paypal, Zelle or Venmo, according to the BBB. Once you’ve given your money to the scammers, it’s gone, the organization says.

“The scammers try to prolong this scam as long as possible to get as much money as possible. They may ask for a fee multiple times, always promising that you will get back much more than you spend,” the BBB said. If you question them, they may resort to scare tactics, telling you that if you don’t pay you’ll miss the giant return or that they can take legal action.”

Cybersecurity expert Chris Hamer told WJXT that people should have the same mindset about their money online as they do in person.

“If you’re walking down the street and someone comes up to you and says I can double your money, just give me $20 and I’ll give you $40 back when I get back. Are you going to give it to them? Probably not,” Hamer told WJXT.

Tips to Avoid Crypto Scams

The BBB encouraged TikTok and other social media users to take the following precautions to avoid crypto scams:

  • “Use common sense. Get-rich-quick schemes and investments that guarantee you a huge return are almost always scams. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • “Do your research. Before contacting someone through TikTok or another social media platform, research their name, phone number, and business name (if they have one) online. S ‘they cheated on other people, you’ll probably find complaints online about it.’
  • “Don’t give in to scare tactics. If an “investor” approaches you, they may try to convince you that the investment will only work if you act now. Or, if you’ve already sent them funds, they may threaten you with legal action if you don’t pay their fees. Either way, don’t give in to scare tactics. Recognize them as hallmarks of a scam.
  • “Understand how digital wallet services work. Treat the money you send through a digital wallet service like cash. Once you’ve sent the money, there’s not much you can do to get it back if it turns out you’ve been scammed. It’s best to only use these apps with people you know and trust.

If you have ever been scammed by these types of tactics, you can report the scam to BBB’s Online Scam Tracker, to help others be on the lookout.

Alison Cutler is a national real-time reporter for the Southeast at McClatchy. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and previously worked for The News Leader in Staunton, VA, an affiliate of USAToday.

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