Please beware of potential scams or fraudulent claims. Once bitcoin is sent, that transaction cannot be reversed or refunded in any way.
These are some of the main ways people get scammed:
1. Job opportunities: Victims are contacted via email or phone, or victims respond to a job posting found online. They are then electronically transferred large sums of money to their bank account and are asked to withdraw the cash and use it to purchase bitcoin as part of an employment application process.
The thieves generally offer a reward of $50-$100 for the victim's assistance. A few days later the money sent via the electronic transfer is linked to a stolen bank account and the transfer is reversed, leaving the victim with a negative balance and no bitcoins.
Source: Krebs on Security Article
2. Airbnb Scam: A popular new scam is conducted by operators of a fake Airbnb website. These scammers will post fake listings on the real Airbnb website. When contacted, they will direct victims to a clone website that looks the same, but is not legitimate. This clone website will direct victims to make a deposit via Bitcoin to hold their desired lodging. Often times victims show up to their supposed Airbnb lodging the day of their intended stay and are met with the bad news. Airbnb does not accept bitcoin in any form right now.
3. Online sales: Another way people are scammed is over some 'too good to be true' cheap offering, e.g. a used car listing on craigslist or ebay at a price 2 times lower than the market value.
The person is then asked to make a bitcoin payment to the given QR code. After bitcoins are sent, the seller disappears leaving the victim with neither the funds nor the goods "purchased".
4. Social Security Scam: This has been the most popular scam recently. Scammer will contact victim and claim to be from the social security office. They will tell victim that their Social Security Number (SSN) has been compromised (they will often have the SSN) and they will advise the victim to immediately take all of their cash from their bank accounts. The scammer will then send victim a QR code and tell them to go to a bitcoin ATM and deposit off of their cash into this new “safe” account.
5. IRS Scam: One common scam is when someone impersonates an IRS agent demanding a debt to be paid. The scammer will often know personal information about the victim and use this information to convince the victim that they actually work for the IRS. The scammer may threaten jailtime and will sometimes provide details to pay via bitcoin. The IRS does not currently accept bitcoin. Never pay supposed IRS debts via bitcoin.
6. Utilities Debt: Someone pretending to be from your utility company (electric, gas, cable) will call or email you to claim you have an outstanding balance. They will then threaten to shut off your service unless you pay immediately via bitcoin. Do not send bitcoin to anyone who contacts you. Find the number for your actual utility company via your bill or their website and inquire about your account status on your own. Do not call any numbers the scammers give you.
7. Family Member In Need: Victim is contacted by a scammer who claims a supposed relative, often a grandchild, niece, or nephew needs bail money or is otherwise in urgent trouble. This scam particularly targets the elderly. We suggest verifying the story with other relatives or calling the police department/hospital directly before sending any money. Again, do not call any number the scammer gives you.
8. Romance scam: Victim believes they are in a relationship with someone they met online who is often in another country. This scam is often carried out over long periods of time and victim is often led to believe they are even engaged. Scammer asks them to help pay for urgent expenses, including costs of traveling to see the victim, customs fees, medical bills, etc. Bitcoin is especially applicable here since it is often used for cross-border payments.
9. Investments/ Ponzi Schemes: Victims will see ads for investment programs promising unusually high rates of return. Unfortunately, virtually all of these are scams. The investment principal from later investors are used to pay out the earlier investors until the whole scheme collapses. One of the biggest warning signs are promises to pay a specific percentage of earnings daily or weekly. If any investment guarantees you a specific return, it is most likely too-good-to-be-true.