When one of our students told us they were going to drop out of college in August 2021, it wasn’t the first time we’d heard of someone ending their studies prematurely.
What was new, though, was the reason. The student had become a victim of a cryptocurrency scam and had lost all their money—including a bank loan—leaving them not just broke, but in debt. The experience was financially and psychologically traumatic, to say the least.
This student, unfortunately, is not alone. Currently there are hundreds of millions of cryptocurrency owners, with estimates predicting further rapid growth. As the number of people owning cryptocurrencies has increased, so has the number of scam victims.
We study behavioral economics and psychology—and recently published a book about the rising problem of fraud, scams and financial abuse. There are reasons why cryptocurrency scams are so prevalent. And there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Crypto takes off
Scams are not a recent phenomenon, with stories about them dating back to biblical times. What has fundamentally changed is the ease by which scammers can reach millions, if not billions, of individuals with a…