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Attorney General Ford Advises Nevadans to Protect Themselves from Novel Tech Scams

Carson City, NV –Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford advises Nevadans to be on alert for novel tech scams. As the world becomes more accustomed to living online, sophisticated scammers are turning to emerging technologies to perpetuate digital fraud. Scammers are targeting cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFT) and quick response (QR) codes because of the ever-changing technological landscapes associated with each as more and more consumers use these technologies.

“Unfortunately, scammers are becoming more sophisticated, especially in the areas of emerging and evolving technologies,” said AG Ford. “Scammers know that users of cryptocurrencies, NFTs and QR codes will be exchanging money online. They seek to capitalize on the vulnerable combination of rapid technological advancement and the guaranteed presence of consumer spending.”

However, by arming yourself with knowledge regarding today’s novel tech scams and how to avoid them, you can avoid these fraudsters.

Cryptocurrency Scams – Cryptocurrency are digital currencies that exist virtually that do not come from a central entity such as a bank. Instead, cryptocurrency relies on blockchain technology to verify online transactions, ensuring each transaction is secure. Cryptocurrency is often stored in a digital wallet that can be obtained and maintained online. Popular cryptocurrencies you may have heard of include Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin.

As more banks and retailers accept cryptocurrency as a legitimate form of payment, cryptocurrency scams have been increasing. In addition to cash and gift cards, scammers are now asking for payment using cryptocurrency, capitalizing on the fact that banks can be avoided all together in such a transaction. For those seeking to invest in cryptocurrency and start a digital wallet, beware what application you download, as scammers are creating fraudulent exchange platforms that link directly to the scammer’s bank account. Cryptocurrency is simply digital money – so any scam involving the concept of money can also involve cryptocurrency.

NFTScams – NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital assets that can be created, bought, sold or traded virtually. NFTs can take the form of photos but also can be music or anything else that can be “digitally packaged.” With some NFTs selling for as much as $69.3 million dollars, scammers have jumped into this market. For example, scammers have set up fraudulent NFT online stores, often showing popular art or other digital assets at heavily reduced prices. While the consumer thinks they may be getting a deal by purchasing a popular NFT at an unknown online store, it is actually just a false virtual storefront and a lure to defraud unsuspecting consumers. Another current NFT scam is the NFT giveaway scam. A scammer will contact consumers with a message that they “won” an NFT but, in order to receive it they will need to provide the scammer with personal information regarding their digital wallet. Instead of receiving an NFT, the scammer will access the consumer’s digital wallet and take everything they can.

QR CodeScams – QR codes, or quick response codes, are unique digital prints that function as hyperlinks which can be scanned with your phone’s camera. The phone will recognize the hyperlink and take you to the corresponding website. For example, due to the pandemic, QR codes have become increasingly popular at restaurants because they replace the need for a physical menu. However, scammers can create QR codes on false advertisements that actually hyperlink to a fraudulent website that requests personal information. Be cautious with QR codes that advertise goods or services that seem too good to be true. 

AG Ford provides the following tips as you use cryptocurrency, NFTs or QR codes: 

  • Remember, scammers will use the same tactics for “digital  ” money as they would for physical money.
  • Cryptocurrency is simply digital money. Therefore, every financial scam that can occur with physical money can also happen with cryptocurrency. Always verify the identity of anyone you send money to.
  • Buy cryptocurrency only from reputable online platforms you have confirmed are legitimate and are known as exchange platforms.
  • Only purchase NFTs from reputable online marketplaces that you have verified. If you think you are getting an unbelievable deal on an NFT that is going for much higher on a differing website, it’s possible that the NFT is a scam.
  • Be cautious of messages informing the recipient that they “won” cryptocurrency or an NFT. The likelihood of receiving something for nothing is very low. Do not give the source of this information access to your digital wallet or any other personal identifying information.
  • Verify that the QR code has not been tampered with by physically checking the code (e.g., has it been retaped over? Does it appear to have been altered in any way?). Also, confirm the website the QR code is taking you to is legitimate before entering any personal identifying information, such as your name, address, or credit card number.
  • Be cautious when online. Remember, it is critical that you verify the identity of the person before sending money to them to avoid being scammed.

If you have been a victim of a novel tech scam, you may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3. Include as much information as possible with your complaint, including any information you have about the person or entity that contacted you.

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