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MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is alerting Monterey County residents of online scams that have been hitting the community.

The scams begin with a text message or email warning the recipient of some potentially fraudulent charges on their account. When the person clicks the link, they are contacted by a person claiming to work for their banking institution.

“The story progresses that their account has been compromised, that the bank security officer is working with the FBI or other government agency to catch the hacker,” according to the DA’s Office in a news release. “They explain the only way to keep the account safe is to withdraw money and turn it over to the scammer via cryptocurrency, cash or some other transaction method for safekeeping. The scammer promises that it will be held until the account is secure, but the money is never returned.”

Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), business and government impersonation scams are the third most common cryptocurrency scam. In 2022, United States crypto scam losses totaled $2.3 billion.

In addition to these scams impersonating the bank or government, the most common cryptocurrency losses are bitcoin investments, which promise huge returns for a small fee.

“Many schemes will start with a wrong number text that leads to a conversation about cryptocurrency investments,” stated the DA’s Office. “Some scams will allow an initial ‘test’ withdrawal to show that the money is safe, but once the full amount is deposited the money is lost.”

There are many online educational resources related to scams, including the FTC’s website, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

Monterey County District Attorney’s Office stated that it will be “vigilant about prosecuting these cases.”

Anyone who has been the victim of a scam, or who has information regarding a potential fraud, should file a complaint with their primary police agency (this may be the local police department or Monterey County Sheriff’s Office).

In addition, residents can alert the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office to scams by completing the consumer complaint form located on the MCDA’s website and emailing it to [email protected], mailing it to the DA’s Office at 1200 Aguajito Road, Suite 301, Monterey, CA 93940, or by calling the DA’s Office at 831-647-7770.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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