How To Protect My Grandparents from Crypto Scams

12 MIN READ
how to protect my grandparents from crypto scams

The popularity of the crypto market has been growing constantly, thanks to decentralization, potential profits, and many other reasons. However, it has also become a hunting ground for scammers, who exploit the lack of knowledge and regulation in the system to target new victims. Older citizens are at higher risk of being targeted by scammers due to their unfamiliarity with newer technology, among other reasons So, how to protect my grandparents from crypto scams? We must educate them on the risks of the crypto world, discuss if they are being offered any financial investment so other family members will check it themselves, and use modern security programs such as phone call spam blockers and trustworthy platforms for crypto trading.

At PlasBit, we are not just a service but a partner in your efforts to protect your loved ones and their assets from cyber criminals. We are here to provide the tools, knowledge, and support you need. Let’s examine how we can work together to protect our grandparents from crypto thieves.

Why the Elderly?

Crypto scams pose a significant threat to crypto investors, and it's crucial to arm ourselves with information and ingenuity to navigate this complex landscape. However, it's important to note that one of the most vulnerable groups to crypto scams is the elderly. Reports indicate that in 2023, 3.4 billion dollars were scammed from older citizens through crypto scams. According to a report from the FBI, at least 101,000 Americans ages 60 and older were victims of digital fraud last year, with an average loss of 33,915 dollars per person. These numbers are alarming, showing the importance of knowing how to protect my grandparents from crypto scams. Various factors related to age, social conditions, and knowledge make them easy targets. Understanding these vulnerabilities is not just important; it's a matter of urgency to protect our grandparents from crypto scams.

Lack of Knowledge

It's a harsh reality that as we age, our ability to learn and adapt diminishes. This is particularly true in the face of rapid technological advancements. Unfortunately, this makes our elderly loved ones prime targets for scammers. The lack of familiarity with newer technologies, such as crypto trading platforms, makes it difficult for them to differentiate between legitimate and phony crypto trading tools. The crypto world is a very technical-heavy field, making it harder for the older generation to adapt, as they are naturally less tech-savvy than the younger generation, thus making it more difficult for them to navigate it and identify possible scams. This lack of knowledge makes it easy for scammers to create sophisticated schemes that prey on this weakness.

Isolation

Many older adults experience social isolation, making them more susceptible to scams. Isolation makes them more trusting of strangers, which is one of the key weaknesses that scammers exploit in the elderly. Crypto scams that prey on trust, such as romance and fake crypto platform scams, use this weak spot to the extreme. Since the victim lacks a support group to communicate with due to being isolated, they usually don’t know they are being scammed until it’s too late.

Lack of Criminal Reports

While many victims are willing to come forward and report their situation, the sad truth is that most people they trust with this information don’t believe in what they say, and a report is never filed. Another risk factor is that older people often don’t want to inconvenience friends and family members with their problems, so they decide to keep quiet. The crypto scam of Naum Launstman, which we will discuss further in this article, is a prime example of elderly victims not reporting being scammed until it’s too late.

Savings

One key factor in crypto scammers' decision to target older victims is that most of the time, they have savings from all the years of hard work and/or pensions that they can afford to spend. This makes them a perfect target for crypto investment scams.

Mental Decline

As we age, we lose the ability to make sound decisions and the capacity to analyze their consequences. Scammers exploit this cognitive weakness with many different tactics to pressure their elderly victims into giving them cryptocurrencies. Romance crypto scams are a perfect example of two vulnerabilities being played together: isolation and the lack of mental capacity to understand that we are being scammed.

Scams that Target the Elderly

As mentioned, scammers deceive victims into losing their assets in many ways. Senior people are more vulnerable to these attacks for the previously mentioned reasons; let’s look at some of the most common scams.

Romance Scams

These tend to be the most common scams involving senior people, as loneliness plays a big factor in the scammers' ability to manipulate their victims. First, the cybercriminal sends messages on social media or dating apps and starts talking to their target. Little by little, trust grows between them, and scammers make promises of love and companionship. Once the bait has been taken, the scammer asks for money or crypto to finance a visit or solve a problem.

The saddest thing about these scams is that they can go on for a long time, as senior victims don’t believe they are being scammed and/or don’t identify the red flags. The scammer might manipulate their victim into isolating themselves even more, depending emotionally on them and squeezing every last token.

Pig Butchering Scams

This scam mixes the emotional aspect of romance and the financial aspect of investment scams. Again, it all starts with a message and trust building. Scammers pass themselves as someone who only has their victim’s best interest in mind, creating a false sense of safety in their victim’s mind. After trust is built, the promises come, in this case, of big profits in a “project” they have heard about or are investing in.

Once the scammers have obtained enough crypto, they disappear without a trace; the pig is fattened and then butchered, as they say. Loneliness and isolation again play a huge role in the success of the scam, as it is easier to manipulate and create emotional dependence in a senior citizen who’s starved for attention and love.

Crypto Grandparent Scam

This is a scam that exclusively targets older citizens. In this scam, the scammer poses as a grandchild or other close relative and asks for money to invest in cryptocurrencies. Preying on the victim’s emotions, the scammers say they are in dire financial trouble or need it due to a medical emergency. The love for their family members is the main tool for manipulation in this scam, as many grandparents won’t say no if their grandchildren are in trouble.

Fake Airdrop Scams

Another scheme that preys on older people's lack of savviness in social media affairs involves scammers offering gifts of “free cryptocurrencies.” To “claim” them, the victim must transfer money or tokens or provide personal information.

Fraudulent Investment Platforms

A scam that targets the lack of technological knowledge, scammers create fake investment platforms that supposedly offer legit crypto trading services. The promises of high profits and modern trading tools are the bait that scammers use to lure in their victims. Once the crypto has been deposited, the scammer disappears with them, or, as in the case of Naum Launstman, further investment is encouraged by manipulating the information in the platform to show high profits.

Phishing Scams

These scams involve thieves posing as legitimate entities, such as banks or crypto-exchanging services, to deceive their victims into willingly giving their sensitive information. These scams usually come in the form of emails or text messages requesting personal details, with a link to a supposedly trusted site for them to enter their information.

how to protect my grandparents from crypto scams

Means of Protecting Our Elderly

Now that we know what we are against, it’s time to know the tools to protect our older loved ones from cyber-attacks and crypto scams.

Love and Attention

The biggest factors that affect elderly people's vulnerability to crypto and digital scams are isolation and loneliness; when we ask ourselves how to protect our grandparents from crypto scams, attention and love are a must. Studies show that, on average, 34% of people between ages 60 and over report feeling lonely and/or distanced from their loved ones, a sad reality that creates the perfect hunting ground for scammers to use emotional manipulation. Caring for, giving, and paying attention to elderly family members is our main protection tool to defend them from cyber criminals.

Education

While older citizens might have difficulty learning and adapting to the evolution of technology, it doesn’t mean they can’t. Educating our grandparents on the dangers lurking in the crypto market with patience and love will prepare them to doubt and ask for assistance once something suspicious appears on their social media or emails.

Supervision

We are not saying we need to add parental protection to our grandparents. However, periodically checking in with them to see if anything suspicious on their social media or financial transactions will go a long way toward responding to and preventing scams.

Trust

Our grandparents often feel they might inconvenience us by relaying their problems to us, making them even more vulnerable to getting scammed as they don’t have support because of their decisions. We must show them they can trust us with those problems and that we are here to help and protect them so they will let us know whenever they think something is wrong.

Update Security Systems

Another important factor, not only for protecting our grandparents but also for ourselves, is always keeping our security systems updated. Antivirus systems can help prevent malware from getting into your computer, warn you against potentially harmful sites, and block sites, emails, and files that contain harmful programs. The fight to protect our grandparents from scams is both physical and digital.

Our Support

PlasBit is committed to the safety and security of every transaction on our platform. That’s why we not only answer the question of how to protect my grandparents from crypto scams for you, but we also do our part in caring for your security. We will act like the wall that separates you and your loved ones from a scam. If your grandparent is in the process of completing a KYC and we suspect that they are at risk of being scammed, we will follow our security protocols to ensure that everything is legitimate. We will make phone calls to verify identities, and we will ask questions regarding how the user plans to use our services, all in an effort to protect our customers from scammers.

The Man That Lost Everything

Naum Lantsman became another name in the growing statistics of elderly people being targeted by crypto scammers. Lantsman believed that his crypto investments were growing at an amazing rate, completely convinced that his patience and the risk he took would be worth it. Yet, at 74 years of age, Lantsman had to see his life savings disappear before his eyes.

He had read about crypto scams and heard about them on the news, but he never imagined he would be part of that growing statistic. When his restaurant supplies and equipment business was closed due to the pandemic, Lantsman saw in crypto investments an opportunity to make the money he was losing somewhere else.

As clients started dropping, the money that Lantsman worked hard to save during his many years of hard work in Los Angeles started to diminish due to the pandemic, which also affected the stock market. While scrolling down through his social media feed, he found the name of a company with an offer, an offer that he hoped would change his situation for the better: SpireBit. On its website, the company explained that they were an England-based international broker company in London and offered services that included crypto investment. The decision to trust SpireBit would prove to be a big mistake.

The Friend and the Lies

Lantsman opened an account and then received a call from a man calling himself Pavel, a representative of Spirebit, through Telegram. Lantsman and Pavel bonded through their shared background as part of the former Soviet Union, and conversations became more personal. It got to the point where both men would exchange information about their family activities, all part of the process of getting Lantsman to trust the company.

After considering it for a while, the 74-year-old man decided to take the risk and make a small investment of $500$ in his account. Hesitation became excitement as Lantsman saw that his initial investment had almost doubled in the span of a few weeks. Through months of talking and convincing, Pavel managed to get his poor victim to invest all his life savings, over 340,000$, into SpireBit’s crypto services.

One of the biggest factors in this multileveled lie was that Naum would see charts on his platform showing how his investment continuously grew. Supposedly, money was constantly being deposited into his account, yet all the charts and information were just part of the picture that scammers wanted Lantsman to paint in his head.

The process finally came to a head when Lantsman decided to withdraw his money from his account. Yet when he made the request, he instead received a document, supposedly from the British bank Barclay, requesting a 2% transfer of the amount he wanted to withdraw to be sent to SpireBit as a security measure. Later, Barclay representatives would confirm that this document was forged.

It was all over; the scam had been successful, and there was nothing that Lantsman or his family could do to recover the money, as Pavel and the money were nowhere to be found. Lantsman had to grapple with the reality that his life savings had been taken, and he and his family were a plus one in the statistics of crypto scams.

Aleksey Madan’s Story

Aleksey Madan also went through a similar scam with SpireBit. The 68-year-old former Soviet Union member also believed its lies. Madan sold a property in the USA to invest in the crypto trading services offered by SpireBit, but like Lantsman, Aleksey soon found himself scammed out of that money.

With a total investment of 137,000$ during his time as a SpireBit crypto investor, Madan finally decided to cash in his profits, yet the story repeated itself. Fake bank documents requesting money started to arrive in his mail, all in an effort to scam the last penny from Aleksey.

Empty promises were made to return the money once a certain amount was sent as a security measure. Still, it was just a way of pressuring the older citizen into giving more. Investigations into SpireBit were conducted, yet the company only declared that all the losses were due to the volatility and instability of the crypto investment market.

The Sham of SpireBit

SpireBit as a company, described itself as a crypto trading platform for new investors, offering individual consultation, trading, and technical support services on its website. Yet, almost everything related to SpireBit is just a house of lies.

Fake Partnerships

One of the biggest claims on SpireBit’s website was that it had partnerships with trusted companies in the crypto market, like Coinbase and Cashapp. Yet after investigations, it was revealed that SpireBit never had any relationship with them.

Fake Profiles

Investigations into the company’s founder and CEO showed that their profiles on networks such as LinkedIn were fake. They used stock photos and fake names to create a sense of legitimacy for their potential victims.

Fake Associates

The website also claimed that SBT Investments Limited was its parent company. Still, investigations done by British authorities into the entity revealed that the relatively unknown company had no connection whatsoever to SpireBit, another brick into a well-built house of scams.

Fake Authorization

Thanks to the many investigations carried out by the authorities, a public alert was issued by the British FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) that named SpireBit as a sham utilizing fake details to pose as a regulated and trustworthy firm and further warned people not to trust this company, as they used SBT Investment Ltd.’s information to deceive people. Finally, they clarified that any situation stemming from deals with SpireBit wouldn’t fall under the British regulatory protections.

Inability to Protect the Victims

According to his family members, loneliness and vulnerability were among the biggest factors in the success of SpireBit’s scam in Lantsman's case. The Ukrainian man who came to L. A in the 80s is part of a larger demographic, the so-called boomers, who face loneliness in their old age and lack the technological knowledge to face the new threats of crypto scammers. Lantsman had quietly done his whole investment process for months, promises of big payouts and a solution to the crisis presented by the pandemic fresh in his head, with family members none the wiser to the dark financial hole his older loved one was being led to.

Lantsman’s family admits that they initially discarded the idea of going public with their story and reporting to the authorities, as they were not looking forward to the attention garnered by being scammed of all their savings. Yet they finally decided to do so in the hopes that their story would serve as a warning to possible victims, as they had exhausted all the possible mechanisms to recover their stolen money.

The family filed reports with the authorities in Los Angeles and the banks. Yet, the possibility of recovering the lost money is virtually zero, as SpireBit and the people behind it have gone off the grid. While the family acknowledges their part in not preventing Lantsman from being scammed, they also feel that the different institutions and authorities could have done more to protect him, like flagging transactions or following up on the biggest ones to prevent further losses.

At the time of writing this article, many reports and lawsuits have been filed against SpireBit, yet the company and its website have gone silent since the final days of December 2023. The total scale and losses due to the SpireBit scam remain unknown.

Conclusion

The crypto market is a growing ecosystem with opportunities for those who want to bet on decentralized tokens. Yet, cybercriminals have taken this world as a hunting ground for potential victims, and one of the most, if not the most, vulnerable demographic is the elderly. Isolation and lack of knowledge are the main factors in this vulnerability, so when we ask ourselves how to protect my grandparents from crypto scams, education, love and attention are the cornerstones of this protection. Talk to your grandparents, tell them they can trust you, keep an eye on their finances, and most importantly, don’t let them feel lonely. PlasBit has your grandparent's back, so let’s protect their assets together.