Deciphering Cryptocurrency Scams: The FTC Roadshow

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is to host a day’s event at DePaul University, the largest institution in Chicago with over 23,000 students, on June 25, 2018. Through their Bureau of Consumer Protection arm, the agency is beginning a reinvigorated process of public education on cryptocurrencies.

FTC Separating out the Rot

In the words of the release, “As consumer interest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin has grown, scammers have reportedly become more active in this area,” and the June 25 meeting is the beginning of public engagement the FTC feels is needed to bring people up to speed, make them aware and keep them protected in the cryptosphere.

(Source: FTC)

Having now amassed a history of consumer interaction with cryptocurrencies, and especially after 2017’s wild bitcoin ride, the FTC is rolling out accumulated evidence and ways in which consumers can recognize and avoid scams in the virtual currency arena. In the release, the agency notes that “Reported scams include deceptive investment and business opportunities, bait-and-switch schemes, and deceptively marketed mining machines.”

Although short, within that sentence lies the entire gamut of swindles that keep popping up in the digital coin arena, with phishing being of intense concern, alongside exchanges’ security protocols. The worst press for cryptocurrencies has come from the often alarming number of hackers looting exchanges in 2017 – 2018.


The event is free, and the public is being encouraged to attend. The FTC has been embroiled in the emergence of digital coins, whether it liked it or not, from the outset, and the authority is continuing its mandate of gathering information, identifying irregularities and educating consumers, especially crypto-consumers, while also preparing evidence that hauls fraudsters before the courts.

Many of the incidents of fraud recorded by the agency have centered on criminals trading on consumers’ often vague understanding of how exactly blockchain tokens are transacted, allowing fraudsters to phish or otherwise wheedle their way into a moment of misunderstanding and clear out people’s wallets. The FTC has thus adopted an educational stance, noting that the protocols at play are secure, but that users often fall victim due to a lack of understanding.

FTC Event: A Sign of Acceptance

Some of the wording of the release has lifted the hearts of digital coins enthusiasts all over the world, with the FTC saying that “The workshop is part of the FTC’s ongoing work to protect consumers taking advantage of new and emerging financial technology. As technological advances expand the ways consumers can store, share, spend, and borrow money, the FTC is working to keep consumers protected while encouraging innovation for consumers’ benefit.”

Rather than repudiating cryptocurrency’s right to exist, the tone and content of the FTC release is indicative of virtual currencies being now entrenched as a component of modern life and focuses on how best to employ blockchain currencies by being educated and thus protected while doing so.

Not even a year ago Wall Street was still sputtering about what a scam bitcoin was, it seems that against the backdrop of blockchain technology’s massive uptake among bankers and business overall, the new stance is one of relatively silent acceptance.

The event will be a live webcast, with a link posted on the day of the seminar. According to the website, the event is “free and open to the public, [and] will be held starting at 1 pm Central Time at DePaul University located at 1 East Jackson Blvd., Suite 8005, Chicago, IL 60604. Pre-registration is not required, but attendees are encouraged to register at [email protected]”

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