A growing number of financial and crypto pyramids targeting Russian investors have opened physical offices in the country. The Central Bank of Russia recently expressed concern over this trend which is seen as an indication that fraudsters are expecting growing demand.
Russian crypto scams launch offices to attract more in-person investors, says Bank of Russia
Financial pyramids and illegal currency dealers in Russia, many of whom now specialize in providing crypto investment and settlement opportunities, are going offline, Izvestia daily reported citing the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (RBC).
For the first time in recent years, the organizers of such scams are opening offices where they try to convince potential victims to invest in virtual money or offer services to circumvent foreign sanctions and government restrictions. In-person contact is always more effective for this purpose, experts say.
They also warn that sharing information with dubious platforms often leads to loss of funds, whether in fiat or crypto. The trend of going offline indicates that scammers are preparing for greater demand, as Russians’ access to global financial assets has become extremely problematic, the report noted.
Sanctions imposed by the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and currency restrictions introduced in response by Russian authorities have spurred interest in crypto-assets. Many Russians bought bitcoin (BTC) or other cryptocurrencies and stablecoins to protect their funds from government measures or transfer them abroad.
Crypto Fraud on the Rise Due to Penalties and Restrictions
According to data compiled by the Bank of Russia, financial pyramids have become much more active this year. In the first half of 2022, the regulator identified 954 such entities, compared to just 146 in the same period last year. That’s more than a sixfold increase.
The number of those offering investments in real or fake cryptocurrencies has also continued to grow. More than half of registered fraud schemes (56%, or 537 entities) raised funds in various digital assets or announced investments in them.
The Russian monetary authority believes fraudsters are taking advantage of radically changed operations of traditional financial institutions in the wake of sanctions that affect international settlements and investments in foreign assets.
The CBR recently relaxed some of its restrictions on access to foreign fiat for Russian citizens, allowing banks to increase the supply of US dollars and euros in cash to the public. It is not yet clear how the change will influence interest in crypto which, according to a recent survey, remains relatively high in Russia.
Do you expect the number of crypto pyramid schemes to continue to grow in Russia? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
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