Monday 17 May 2021 8:29 pm

Crypto criminals: Consumers lose more than $2m in Musk impersonation scams

Crypto scammers have swindled consumers out of £1.4m in the last six months by impersonating Tesla chief Elon Musk.

Scammers claiming to be Musk on social media, who is known for moving crypto markets with his thoughts on Bitcoin, Dogecoin and others, have been identified by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Investment scams take on a majority of forms, including a promise that a celebrity associated with cryptocurrency will multiply any virtual currency sent to their wallet and send it back.

Others start as offers of investments “tips” or “secrets” in online message boards that lead people to bogus websites.

It comes amid a sharp increase in the number of scams linked to cryptocurrencies, as the nascent digital currencies increasingly move into the mainstream.

Since October consumers have reported losing more than $80m to such scams, an increase of more than ten-fold year on year, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In total the organisation received more than 7,000 reports of crimes, with victims reporting an average loss of $1,900.

The report revealed that people aged 20 to 49 were over five times more likely than older age groups to fall victim to cryptocurrency scams.

Consumers in their 20s and 30s lost more money to investment scams than to any other kind of fraud, while more than half of the losses were in cryptocurrency.

It comes after Musk this week sparked chaos in cryptocurrency markets after implying on Twitter that Tesla had sold or may sell the rest of its Bitcoin holdings.

Bitcoin’s price plunged by roughly a fifth before recovering some of its losses after the Tesla chief clarified that Tesla had not sold any Bitcoin.