Romance scams are on the rise and so is cryptocurrency theft.
Romance scams are on the rise and cryptocurrency hackers are getting more effective at stealing from blockchain platforms, according to a report released this week by security platform Atlas VP.
The report shines a light on four cybercrimes that escalated over the past calendar year. Chief among them: Scammers carried out romance scams on a wider scale than ever before, costing Americans at least $350 million in 2021. Romance scams were particularly effective on those aged 60-69, and were part of substantial rises in fraud carried out among Americans, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
“Losses to romance scams have climbed to record highs in recent years. More than a third of people who said they lost money to an online romance scam in 2021 said it began on Facebook or Instagram,” the FTC reports. “These scams often start with a seemingly innocent friend request from a stranger, followed by sweet talk and then, inevitably, a request for money.”
The report also suggests U.S. military personnel were prime targets for fraudsters. From 2017 through 2021, military personnel lost $822 million “to various forms of digital crime,” the report states, issuing more than 800,000 allegations of fraud, identity theft and other consumer complaints to the FTC during that period. The FTC divides military complaints into three groups: reservists and families, active-duty troops and veterans and retirees. Reservists and military families were behind more than half of the total fraud losses.
In addition, the report suggests blockchain hackers are not slowing down at stealing cryptocurrency despite numerous security upgrades in the technology. In the first quarter of 2022, blockchain hackers stole nearly $1.3 billion over 78 hacking events, according to the report, attacking “numerous crypto projects and ecosystems.” The majority of losses were hacks on Solana and Ethereum ecosystems.
In total, the report documents $12 billion in cryptocurrency stolen by hackers in the past decade. The report states that up to 40% of the funds stolen during the past decade were executed through fake cryptocurrency exchanges.