What Were the Major Online Fraud Developments in 2021?

By Judith Dayan-Persson

Like the year that preceded it, 2021 saw a major increase in online activity. Much of this activity included neutral or productive activities such as shopping, working, and learning remotely, but not everyone online has the best of intentions. 

Illegal crypto and forex schemes proliferated in 2021. The FTC reported that consumers lost $80 million to digital currency investment schemes, a tenfold increase year over year. Those who plot to steal money from consumers innovate new methods and tactics and adapt them to try to stay a step ahead of authorities and private companies that help consumers track down these schemes. 

If you have lost money to forex and crypto schemes, speak to our professionals who can assist you in efforts to retrieve your funds. MyChargeBack gives guidance to consumers who are trying to recover their funds from merchant disputes, crypto scams, or other types of fraud. Talk to MyChargeBack professionals and get started on fund recovery. 

The following is a list of major trends that characterized illegal schemes in 2021. These patterns are worth noting for 2022. Use caution if you see any financial opportunity that uses the following methods. 

High Profile Ransomware Attacks

Software as a service (SaaS) is so much a part of our lives that we hardly notice it. Many of us discuss what we are watching on Netflix and encourage our friends to check out the latest series. Even these simple activities involve SaaS, which is basically software delivered according to the subscription model rather than through a complex installation process. 

Unfortunately, cybercriminals have adapted the SaaS model to reach new victims. Ransomware is a type of malware that infects devices and computers and holds services hostage until the user sends money to the blackmailer, usually in the form of cryptocurrency. 

Ransomware can be used by terrorists or those who want money to hold essential services hostage until their demands are met. Attempts have been made on hospitals around the world as well as utility companies but one of the most high-profile cases was the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. 

Hackers managed to gain control of services provided by the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers energy to millions. The criminals demanded $4.4 million in cryptocurrency before they would restore service. The money was paid, but thanks to investigative efforts of the FBI, the criminals were tracked down and most of the money was recovered. 

Although the Colonial Pipeline story ended favorably, the threat of ransomware looms large. A company may experience complete disruption in its services and at the same time, will have to part with huge amounts of money to pay the ransom. 

Sophisticated Social Engineering Tactics

The term “social engineering” refers to the methods those who perpetrate fraud use to build confidence with their victims. For instance, they can pretend to be an IT person at a company and tell an employee they need a password or access to their device. This is a common strategy people use to gain access to sensitive information and can take over accounts. 

Social engineering was used by the 17-year-old Floridian who took over the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk and perpetrated a crypto fraud. Although this event took place in 2020 rather than 2021, it was one of the first major cases of social engineering fraud and has been followed by many others. 

The proliferation of Social Media Cryptocurrency Frauds

In the past year, the most common type of online fraud was through cryptocurrency and the most popular venue was social media. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are places people like to hang out and share information. However, when this information is about financial services, things can turn dicey. 

We may have all seen notices on social media ads or actual posts that promise to double money in just 24 or 48 hours from cryptocurrency. Many have the experience of being messaged by someone who doesn’t know who turns out to be a fake identity and be told of an amazing and lucrative forex deal. The ease with which people can hide their identities on social media has unfortunately made it easier for people to carry out schemes. 

Improved Methods for Tracking Down Illegal Cryptocurrency Activities

Amid all of the dark news about cryptocurrency proliferation, there are some bright spots as well when it comes to investigation and fund recovery strategies. Collaboration between merchants, consumers, cryptocurrency platforms and investigators has led to many cybercriminals getting caught. 

For instance, if a customer has lost money in a cryptocurrency transaction, they may be able to see quite clearly that the money went to another account with a certain code, but they have no context–no identity, no location. 

It may seem like a lost cause to get money back, but fund recovery professionals have honed the art of collaborating with others involved in the transaction, right down to the platform, and can uncover the identities behind these transactions. 

Also, those who deal with many of these cases are aware of patterns used by certain parties, their quirks, and where they transfer money. For instance, MyChargeBack has an extensive database of information collected through many cases which can be valuable in identifying those behind forex or crypto schemes. 

In fact, investigators turned the corner in 2021 with cryptocurrency recovery. One reason many cybercriminals demand money in cryptocurrencies is they believe that the anonymity of their transactions on the blockchain will protect them. 

However, tracking methods have become sophisticated and collaboration, databases and court orders for codes and keys have led to successful cryptocurrency recovery cases. 
If you have lost money to a cryptocurrency scheme, seek fund recovery assistance right away. Consult with MyChargeBack experts and get started with your fund recovery claim. We have extensive working knowledge and relationship with regulators as well as the dynamics of crypto recovery and can improve our prospects of getting your money back.