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  • The FBI is warning of a rise in crypto scams using ATMs and QR codes.
  • Using a fake request for payment, scammers direct victims to a crypto ATM to withdraw coins.
  • The criminals give victims a QR code associated with a cryptocurrency wallet to send crypto to.

The FBI warned Friday that criminals are increasingly using cryptocurrency ATMs and QR codes to trick people into handing over their money.

Such schemes often begin with a fraudulent request for funds. Scammers may pretend to be from a government agency seeking money or a from a lottery that requires a fee before a prize can be claimed, according to the FBI.

The criminals then send the victims to a physical cryptocurrency ATM to buy coins. After the purchase, the victims use a QR code associated with the scammer’s crypto wallet to transfer the funds.

Once the payment goes through, the criminals often transfer the funds to an overseas account immediately, the FBI said. This can make recovering the funds difficult, since traditional bank transfers can remain pending for one to two days before settlement.

The FBI is advising people to be cautious whenever someone says they can only accept cryptocurrency and to avoid cryptocurrency ATMs that advertise anonymity and only require a phone number or e-mail.

The agency’s warning comes at a time when cryptocurrency scams are soaring. A report from a crypto research firm in August said that scams involving crypto are on track for a record in 2021, and have been increasing by about 41% every year.

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