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AG Nessel and Michigan State Police Issue Warning on the Dangers of Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Scams

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan State Police (MSP) Cyber Section are joining together to highlight the dangers of cryptocurrency scams. Fraudsters using crypto scams commonly target older and vulnerable adults, but Michiganders of all ages have been victimized by these scams.

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency. Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) are the most common types of cryptocurrency, but there are thousands of types of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency can be purchased online via a cryptocurrency exchange or with cash at Crypto Kiosks or Bitcoin ATMs. Cryptocurrency is not illegal, but scammers often take advantage of cryptocurrency and use it as a tool to steal from others.

Nessel and the Michigan State Police say that Michiganders should be wary if anyone tells you to go to the bank or credit union and:

  • Withdraw cash at a different branch than you would normally use,
  • Lie to the branch tellers about the reason you are withdrawing money, or
  • Leave a cell phone call “open,” or keep a phone call going by leaving your cell phone in a pocket or purse, so that the caller can give you further instructions after you have withdrawn cash at a bank or ATM.

“Cryptocurrency is a new, complex market that causes confusion among even seasoned investors, and bad actors are exploiting this arena to victimize people of all ages,” said Nessel. “Residents should be wary of unsolicited requests from strangers on the phone or internet, and especially requests to make bank withdrawals or deposits at cryptocurrency kiosks or Bitcoin ATMs.”

Nessel warns that legitimate cryptocurrency investment opportunities will not come from people you do not know sending offers to invest by sending money using Facebook or other social media platforms. Be cautious about any investment opportunities requiring the use of a specific website, as “cryptocurrency investment” gains can easily be faked by anyone who can design their own website.

“Fraudsters are utilizing cryptocurrency scams to take advantage of residents in Michigan and elsewhere, often without any interaction from the victim,” said D/F/Lt. James Ellis, commander of MSP’s Cyber Section. “Online exchanges are being exploited more frequently with the account holders crypto being stolen, like a bank robber stealing funds from your banks safe, but much easier. Bad actors are also calling and emailing victims directly duping them out of their crypto and cash with get rich schemes, romance scams, or by creating false emergencies that must be dealt with immediately, playing on victim’s emotions. Use common sense; legitimate organizations will not ask you to withdraw cash from your bank or for login details for your cryptocurrency or online accounts. Never allow anyone you don’t know remote access to your computer or accounts when they offer assistance to help.”

Further, police in your community (like the Michigan State Police) or federal law enforcement (like the FBI) will never ask you to assist with a criminal investigation by sending money, cryptocurrency, or personal IP address information. Money transfer platforms (like PayPal or Venmo) will never call you or email you and tell you to open a cryptocurrency account. 

For more information about popular consumer scams, or if you believe you’ve been a victim, residents can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team Monday-Friday at 877-765-8388 or complete the Department of Attorney General’s online complaint form.


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