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Family Impersonation/Relationship and Romance Bitcoin Scams

Online Relationship Scams

These often begin with an online relationship found over social media or dating sites/apps. In these cases the scammer can continue these “relationships” for years at a time, and they will always find an excuse for why they are unable to come home or see the victim in person at any time.

Family or Friend Impersonation

These start when a scammer begins “spoofing” a friend or family member’s information. This process is when a scammer breaches the social media accounts or phone numbers of people you know and makes the request for funds while impersonating them through chat, emails, or texts.

Common Requests from Relationship Scammers

  • Reasons for needing funds include funding to fix equipment on a job site, paying for unexpected medical expenses, resolving bail/legal issues, or paying for work-related travel expenses, among others. Scammers can request Bitcoin because for some reason or other they are seemingly unable to access any of their own regular banking.
  • Scammers can send you money, typically via check or cash, and have you deposit the funds into their private bank account. They will then ask you to return the funds to them via Bitcoin as it allows for immediate transfers.
  • This remittance return is a way that criminals try to obscure their paper trail. If this occurs, immediately inform your bank of the situation and work with their representatives.

Avoiding Relationship Scams

  • Travel companies, airlines, and shipping companies do not generally accept Bitcoin directly for purchases or payments. Furthermore, they will never specify Bitcoin be used instead of a standard payment form like debit or credit.
  • Anyone requesting for these reasons or similar is almost assuredly misleading you. Anyone who tells you Bitcoin is the only option to send them money should not be trusted. Money can be wired or transferred around the world by multiple means that are verified, retrievable, and safe, like mobile payment service or bank wires.
  • Bitcoin is an anonymous and irreversible currency that is not accepted by most businesses or banks.