Beware the Bitcoin Bait: U.S Attorney’s Office Warns of Cryptocurrency Scam Involving Fake Arrest Warrants

Cryptocurrency© Fernando Cortes / Canva

SCRANTON, PA — In an audacious scam sweeping the nation, fraudsters are trying to trick unsuspecting individuals into paying cryptocurrency to lift non-existent arrest warrants. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is warning the public about this fraudulent scheme.

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, targets of the scam have been receiving forged court documentation claiming they are under investigation for Payroll Protection Program (PPP) fraud and that an arrest warrant has been issued in their name. The PPP is a government loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll during the COVID-19 crisis.

The fake documents often purport to have been sent on behalf of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch. In a further twist, the scammers advise the recipient that to quash the arrest warrant, they must make a payment through a cryptocurrency kiosk. These instructions are detailed and designed to guide even the most technophobic victim through the process of sending a cryptocurrency payment.

Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is a type of digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. It’s often favored by scammers due to its untraceable nature.

However, the United States Attorney’s Office is keen to reassure the public that these solicitations are entirely unapproved and illegitimate. If you receive solicitations to lift an arrest warrant in exchange for cryptocurrency payments, they urge you not to respond or follow those instructions.

Instead, report these scams to law enforcement by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721. You can also report the scam to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant and aware of the many scams seeking to exploit unsuspecting victims. Always verify any unexpected communications and never send money or personal information without confirming the authenticity of the request.

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