California flags 17 virtual currency websites for alleged fraudulent activities

California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) has issued 17 public warnings against the activity of digital asset websites.

DFPI alleges that these websites engage in fraudulent activity, primarily targeted at residents. The financial watchdog has released a slew of recommendations over two days, similar to a series of warnings he issued to 26 cryptocurrency platforms in June.

According to the latest warning, several platforms are mimicking popular legitimate digital asset service providers such as Wintermute and Uniswap. Entities that have issued DFPI warnings include TeleTrade Options, Yong Ying Global Investment Company, Unison FX, ZC Exchange, Tosal Markets Limited, Trade 1960, and Tahoe Digital Exchange.

The alert stems from multiple complaints from California residents to the DFPI, resulting in losses ranging from $2,000 to over $1 million. A common theme in the complaints was proposals to invest in cryptocurrencies that were incentivized with promises of favorable returns.

Victims are contacted via social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook, and use the “slaughter of pigs” strategy to feign a romantic interest in order to gain the victim’s trust. Other tactics employed by the suspects are advance payment fraud, outright phishing and impersonation.

“DFPI urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before accepting an invitation to invest or provide financial services,” DFPI said.

The Scourge of Digital Asset Fraudsters

Digital asset scammers have been on a rampage since the beginning of the year, costing victims billions of dollars. Their work has attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), valiantly attempting to reverse the trend.

The FBI notes that scammers are more active during the holidays, targeting lonely individuals, according to the alert. Individuals are warned to stay vigilant and avoid unsolicited messages from strangers on the Internet.

Frank Fisher, a public relations specialist with the FBI’s Albuquerque office, said: “The scammers know they trust them and that older Americans have more money than usual. Because they know, they tend to focus on older people.

In addition to pig slaughter scams, there are sweepstakes scams where bad actors contact individuals to notify them of winning a prize. Victims flee in the name of paying processing costs and taxes.

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