Cyber ​​crime involving cryptocurrency is on the rise in the state

FAYETTEVILLE – FBI officials in Arkansas say cybercriminals have begun targeting victims of a scam involving personal computers, a threat to breach Social Security accounts and cryptocurrency.

“We’re seeing an increase in this fancy piece on an old scam,” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kevin Curlew said in an interview.

“The victim will receive a pop-up on their computer telling them a virus has been detected and asking them to call that number,” Curlew said. “If they call, they’re told their computer has been infected with a virus and they’re victims of identity theft and they need a new Social Security account.”


Curlew said once scammers have a victim online, they are told a Social Security official will call them. The scammers then “spoof” a number that appears to be from the Social Security Administration and tell the victim to close all their bank accounts and transfer their money to bitcoin.

“Several victims called to say they had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in their life savings,” Curlew said. “They go to the bank and transfer their bitcoin money and put it in a wallet. If we can get word within a few hours, 24 hours at the most, there’s a chance we can get the money back, but if long time, it is almost impossible.

Curlew said the cryptocurrency’s growing popularity made it almost inevitable that those involved in this type of criminal activity would incorporate it into scams.

Local law enforcement agencies said they have received reports of similar schemes, but the use of cryptocurrency is new. The Fayetteville Police Department received at least one such report, according to Sgt. Anthony Murphy, Public Information Officer for the Ministry.

Murphy said the department advises people to be wary of anyone contacting them by phone claiming to be from a government agency and asking them to provide information or money.

“Social Security would not call anyone asking for money,” Murphy said. “If you have any suspicions, hang up and call the device they claim to be calling from. Use common sense. If it seems off, it probably is.”

Veronica Taylor of the Social Security Administration’s Dallas-area public affairs office said the agency recently issued warnings about impersonation scams.

“While scammers primarily use phone calls as part of their scam, they may also use email, text, social media or U.S. mail,” Taylor said. “They pretend to be Social Security and say there’s a problem or an award. They also try to pressure individuals to act immediately.”

“Generally, if a person doesn’t have ongoing business with the SSA, we’re unlikely to call them,” she said. “If a person receives a suspicious call claiming to be from Social Security, they should hang up and report it to our Office of Inspector General.”

“A common tactic used by fraudsters is to impersonate federal agents and other law enforcement officials,” Taylor said. “They can claim that a social security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest the individual if he does not comply with the instructions given. The caller simply hangs up. If a person owes money to Social Security, we’ll send them a letter explaining their rights, payment options, and information about filing an appeal of the decision.”

According to information from the FBI, criminals offering fraudulent cryptocurrency investment services have become common enough to prompt the agency to issue an investor warning. According to the FBI, the agency has identified at least 244 victims of this type of fraud, with losses estimated at more than $42.7 million.

Curlew said anyone seeking more information or needing to file a complaint can go to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call the Little Rock office at (501) 221-9100.

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