GASTONIA, N.C. — Regina Seale says she was already having a bad day when she got a message on Instagram from someone who she thought was a friend.
She told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke the person posing as her Instagram friend wanted her to invest in Bitcoin.
“I cannot afford to be giving out money to anybody or just to be investing and losing,” she said.
After she turned down the person’s offer, the impostor locked her out of her Instagram account and tried to blackmail her. She says the scammer wanted her to make a video saying she had invested $500 in Bitcoin and earned more than $10,000.
The scammer told her that if she recorded the video, she would get her Instagram account back. “I kept telling them, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’”
At the time of this report, Seale still had not gotten access to her Instagram account. “I lost a lot of personal photos of my late husband, my dad, my children, things I cannot get back,” she said.
Stoogenke also emailed Instagram to see if he could help Seale get her account back.
The Federal Trade Commission says some scammers in these cases say they have embarrassing or compromising photos, videos or personal information about you and they threaten to make it public unless you pay them in cryptocurrency.
Seale says the scammer tried that on her too, but she did not believe them.
She wants to warn others about these scams. “They’ll tell you, ‘Oh, I just invested x amount of money and I just made $5,000, $10,000, you can do the same.’ Do not click that link. It’s a scam,” she said.
Stoogenke says scammers can pose as people you know on social media, so if someone contacts you with an investment opportunity, follow up with that person by phone. If someone guarantees a profit, be suspicious. If they threaten you, it’s a scam.
Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced plans to almost double the size of its team that protects consumers who invest in things such as Bitcoin. The unit started in 2017 and the SEC says since then, it has taken legal action more than 80 times, winning victims more than $2 billion.
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