In a recent blog postOkcoin, a San Francisco-based crypto exchange, warned against “elderly fraud,” adding that seniors are the most at-risk group hit by online scams.
Following an investigation, the enterprise risk team intercepted $1 million in stolen Ethereum and Tether and returned the tokens to the rightful owners.
How Okcoin recovered the stolen crypto
The starting point was a report from an 84-year-old user who contacted Okcoin for help after being scammed in April.
“We were scammed and they emptied our meager savings. […] Without it, we can’t get there. Please help us. Thanks.”
Investigations revealed that the user was one of many victims targeted by an international scam ring. Investigators estimated that the gang made more than $4.1 million from its operations.
Critics argue that criminals prefer cryptocurrencies due to their pseudo-anonymous nature. However, in this case, Okcoin was able to monitor scammers’ wallets using blockchain analysis.
Things came to a head when the scammers attempted to launder the stolen funds by sending tokens to an anonymous centralized entity. Although not explicitly stated in the message, it is common knowledge that centralized exchanges are in contact with each other and agree to freeze accounts suspected of criminal activity.
From there, the million dollars in ETH and USDT was recovered and returned to the victims.
Online scammers target the elderly
Citing data from a 2021 senior citizen fraud report conducted by the FBI, Okcoin said that scammers “regularly target seniors due to their lack of technical knowledge.”
The report showed that people over 60 are the most vulnerable age group – with the most incidents of scams and the highest loss in dollars. In contrast, people under the age of 20 had the fewest number of incidents and the lowest dollar losses.
“The FBI 2021 Elder Fraud Report showed that 92,371 Americans over the age of 60 were scammed in 2021, losing a total of $1.7 billion. This is a 74% increase in losses from 2020 and by far the highest of any age group. »
Hoping to fix the problem, the crypto exchange wanted to raise awareness about the most common way seniors fall victim, the tech support scam.
Tech support scams involve scammers posing as staff from well-known technology companies, such as Microsoft or Google. They persuade the victim to install remote access software under the guise of solving a non-existent problem.
Once installed, the scammer can gain access to the victim’s financial accounts and emails. Okcoin recommends checking in on elderly parents often.