YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two state agencies in Ohio have issued a bulletin, warning of a scam targeting older adults.

The underlying ideas are still the same, saying a child or grandchild needs money. It’s just that the schemers are demanding a new form of payment.

Xavier Diaz is an intelligence analyst. The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center has helped work on seven cases in Ohio. He understands why the scammers have changed payment methods to crypto.

“Same methods, same methodologies, whether it be a phone call, text, email, just asking for payment in cryptocurrency,” Diaz said. “The suspects believe that it’s easier to hide themselves behind the currency itself.”

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center averaged over 2,175 complaints a day last year. The potential total loss grew to $10.2 billion.

Scammers keep constant communication with their targets, guiding them through the process until the payment is made.

ONIC is helping local law enforcement because it has highly specialized training that helps connect the dots on these complex cases.

“Any scam case involving crypto is still a financial case. So, it’s still a matter of where’s the money going to. So, that’s part of what’s interesting to me is trying to follow the money,” Diaz said.

The money shows that older people are the biggest targets and lose the most. People age 60-plus file the most complaints and report the biggest losses.

2022 victims by age group:

  • 40-49: 87,526 complaints with $1.6 billion in losses
  • 50-59: 64,551 complaints with $1.8 billion in losses
  • 60-plus: 88,262 complaints with $3.1 billion in losses

Scammers are finding new ways to deceive people, even younger adults. A positive outcome is possible, if you report it to law enforcement.

“The more data that’s flowed into these reporting functions, the easier it is to be able to identify to be able to associate a wallet that has a known scam address,” Diaz said.

If you feel you’ve been the target of a scam, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. If you have lost money or feel unsafe because of a scam, contact local law enforcement.