Protecting our customers from online scams

written by Blake Cohen

Protecting our customers from online scams

Our risk team recently stopped a $1 million scam targeting the elderly. Here’s how this kind of scam works and what we can all do to protect our loved ones. 💪

In summary

  • Our risk team was recently able to stop and reverse a $1 million elder fraud scam
  • The elderly are the highest risk group for online scams
  • The “Tech Support Scam” is the most common type of elder fraud scam
  • There are a few things we all can do to protect our loved ones 💜

Trade safely

How Okcoin’s risk team stopped a $1 million elder fraud scam

In April 2022, an 84 year-old Okcoin customer reached out to our risk team. He had some pretty distressing things to say:

“We were scammed and they cleaned out our meager savings. […] Without it we can’t make it. Please help us. Thank you.”

An international scam ring had allegedly stolen this customer’s life savings and withdrawn the funds before the victim was able to alert us. In total, this specific scam ring, targeting the elderly, may have stolen over $4.1 million.

According to the risk team’s investigation, the scammers withdrew the funds to three private wallets that they fully controlled. It was a difficult investigation, but our team didn’t give up. Using blockchain analysis we were able to monitor the scammers’ wallets on the public blockchain. Within weeks, the scammers made the mistake of attempting to launder the stolen crypto through a centralized entity. Our team acted quickly and froze the funds before the scammers could withdraw them to another private wallet. We were able to recover close to $1 million worth of stolen ETH and USDT and are in the process of returning the assets to their legitimate owners.

The elderly are scammers’ main target

Most of the customers who fell prey to this specific scam ring were seniors. Many of these customers, like the 84 year-old man quoted above, could have lost almost everything they had saved for their entire lives.

The targets’ age is no coincidence. Scam rings routinely target the elderly due to their lack of technical knowledge. The FBI’s 2021 Elder Fraud Report showed that 92,371 Americans over the age of 60 were scammed in 2021, losing a combined $1.7 billion. This is a 74% increase in losses from 2020 and by far the most of any age group.

Source: FBI’s Elder Fraud Report

What’s the Tech Support Scam?

This scam ring used a scheme known as the “Tech Support Scam”. Tech Support Scams involve scammers impersonating well-known tech companies and offering to fix non-existent technology issues or renew fraudulent software or security subscriptions. This scam can be costly because the victim often gives full control of their computer to the scammer in order to have them “fix” the alleged technological issue. This provides the scammer with easy access to the victim’s bank accounts and email inboxes, allowing them to send the victim’s money anywhere without immediately raising red flags.

The FBI also reported that Tech Support Fraud is the most reported type of online fraud among victims over the age of 60. In 2021, the FBI received 13,900 complaints related to Tech Support Fraud from elderly victims who experienced almost $238 million in losses. Elderly victims account for 58 percent of the total reports of tech support fraud to the FBI and 68 percent of the total losses.

Source: FBI’s Elder Fraud Report

How you can help combat scams

If you’re worried about an elderly relative potentially falling for these or other scams, the best thing you can do is to check in on them regularly. This can be done by calling and asking about what they have been up to. If they say they have been “helped by someone on the phone” or have been talking to a tech support employee, that should raise  a serious red flag for a possible scam. Many elders  have avoided being scammed because a younger relative recognized something was wrong and reported it appropriately.

If you suspect you or someone you know may  be a victim of a scam involving their account(s) at Okcoin, please contact us immediately at support@okcoin.com

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