FOX 2 - "Anytime it’s 'You need to give me something first, and I’ll give you something bigger in return, that is a big red flag,'" said David Derigiotis.
But people are still getting duped by this get-rich crypto currency scheme -- including a couple in Troy - who police say was contacted by two people via WhatsApp and Telegram.
The predators promised they could make them a lot of money by trading Bitcoin. Over six weeks and several transactions later - they invested $44,000 worth of Bitcoin into websites that turned out to be a scam.
Police say the victims believe to be making profits from their investments, but when they attempted to access their funds, they were told the accounts were "frozen" until they paid a 13 percent service fee. The victims then realized they were being scammed and filed a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
"What it boils down to is, you need to know who you are working with, their credentials, their history, their resume, their pedigree they have," said Derigiotis. "It can’t be some fly-by-night person or organization with some get-rich-quick scheme."
Bitcoin and other crypto currency growing in popularity not only because of its increasing value but because the currency is solely controlled by you - held in your digital wallet. It's not manipulated by markets, impacted by inflation, or handled by a bank or broker.
That also means if something goes wrong, you are all on your own.
"You have recourse with either the vendor or card issuer to have that charge reversed – anytime with crypto, once that transaction is made there is nobody to call. It is irreversible," Derigiotis said.
This means the Troy couple and others, who the FBI reports lost $80 million in crypto scams over eight months in 2020 and 2021, are out of luck.
Derigiotis, a cyber-risk expert with Burns & Wilcox, says only invest what you are willing to lose - while giving us some tips that indicate that you are about to become a victim of a scam.
"Usually (there is) some type of urgency upon you, there is usually some time of fear. you are risking arrest or the authorities are going to come after you, or it is some type of huge financial reward," he said.
On top of that - he says you must have communication other than the internet, learn their credentials, company affiliation, and track record, because at this point there is no certification to work with crypto currency. Derigiotis says it is all trial and error.
"You have to verify it," he said. "If there is a way to meet the person face-to-face, or to have more understanding, more information about the project of what they are doing, or hear from other people in terms or reviews, or referrals from other sources."