Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, have recently become popular and are intended to serve as a type of money. They may be traded on online exchanges for conventional currencies, including the U.S. dollar, or used to purchase goods or services, usually online.
Bitcoin presents unique challenges. The digital-only currency is difficult to trace, it’s international, it isn’t regulated by any central authority and law enforcement has a tough time seizing or freezing those ill-gotten gains.
However, any investment in securities in the United states remains subject to the jurisdiction of the SEC regardless of whether the investment is made in U.s. dollars or a virtual currency. In particular, individuals selling investments are typically subject to federal or state licensing requirements. Check How to avoid Bitcoin Ponzi schemes the investor alert issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bitcoin users should be aware of the following:
The famous and very true phrase “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” avoid deals that sound too good to be true.
Companies accepting Bitcoin as their only payment method. They’re generally either unwilling to disclose account information or don’t have one.
Websites that demand unreasonably fast payment for example Bitcominers rushed people into panic paying within 3 hours to get such a cheap deal.
check the going rate for their product, if it’s way too cheap this should ring alarm bells and warrant further investigation prior to purchase. Start small! If they’re new and untested don’t send your life savings, start with the smallest option to reduce the capital at risk.
Most importantly research before you buy. There are see countless posts on the forums of people finding a thread about a known scam after they’ve purchased.
That’s the gist of a new warning from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issued investor alert to warn individual investors about fraudulent investment schemes that may involve Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
Common Red Flags of Fraud
High investment returns with little or no risk – every investment carries some degree of risk, and investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. “Guaranteed” investment returns or promises of high returns for little risk should be viewed skeptically.
Overly consistent returns. Investments tend to go up and down over time, especially those seeking high returns. Be suspect of an investment that generates consistent returns regardless of overall market conditions.
Unregistered investments – to check if investments have been registered. visit the SEC site to search the company. . For further information contact your state’s regulator.
Unlicensed sellers – Federal and state securities laws require certain investment professionals and their firms to be licensed or registered. Many Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms. Verify Individuals and Firms Here.
Secretive and/or complex strategies and fee structures. Rule of thumb: avoid investments you don’t understand or for which you can’t get complete information.
Issues with paperwork. Be skeptical of excuses regarding why you can’t review information about the investment in writing. Always read and carefully consider an investment’s prospectus or disclosure statement before investing. Be on the lookout for errors in account statements which may be a sign of fraudulent activity.
Difficulty receiving payments. Be suspicious if you don’t receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out your investment. Ponzi scheme organizers some times encourage participants to “roll over” promised payments by offering higher investment returns.
It comes through someone with a shared affinity. Fraudsters often exploit the trust derived from being members of a group that shares an affinity, such as a national, ethnic or religious affiliation. sometimes, respected leaders or prominent members may be enlisted, knowingly or unknowingly, to spread the word about the “investment.”