In January 2022 the Federal Trade Commission Division of Consumer and Business Education put out a notice warning people about a scam in which people are being asked to pay with cryptocurrency. The scam involves a con-artist, a trip to a designated store, a cryptocurrency ATM, and a QR code,
According to a press announcement, scammers call various targets pretending to be a representative of the government, law enforcement, or a utility company. In some instances, they pose as a romantic interest you met online, or they’ll say they’re contacting you to inform you that you’ve wo a prize.
Regardless as to their backstory, at some point, the scammer will ask for money.
“If you believe the story they tell and you seem willing to engage, they’ll stay on the phone to direct you to withdraw money from your bank, investment, or retirement accounts. Then they’ll tell you to go to a store with a cryptocurrency ATM (and they’ll stay on the phone the whole time). Once you’re there, they’ll direct you to insert your money into the ATM and buy cryptocurrency,” the press release states. “Here’s where the QR code comes in: they send you a QR code with their address embedded in it. Once you buy the cryptocurrency, they have you scan the code so the money gets transferred to them. But then your money is gone.”
Consumers should know that no one from the U.S. government, the Internal Revenue Service, law enforcement, utility company, or lottery administration will call you and instruct you to send payment via cryptocurrency. Additionally, you should also be aware that the IRS has stated that you cannot claim cryptocurrency theft as a capital gains loss.
What to do if you get a phone call demanding money
Remember, the IRS will never contact you by phone to demand immediate payment. If you do get such a call, do not engage with the caller. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated, and whatever you do, do not send them payment over the phone.
For more information about the 2022 tax scams you should be aware of, past and current cryptocurrency scams, and how to know whether an IRS demand is legitimate, be sure to talk to a licensed tax professional. If you’d like more information about how you can keep your information (and your money) out of the hands of scam artists, visit IRS.gov.