Crypto-based scams are currently the top threat to investors, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).
The umbrella group of U.S. state and provincial regulators issued its latest annual list of the most critical hazards facing investors, based on a survey of its members.
This year’s list featured fraud involving digital assets as the sort of scheme that “currently presents the most danger to the public,” cited by 62% of regulators.
“Fraudsters are continuing to leverage broad public interest in digital assets,” said Andrew Hartnett, president of NASAA and deputy commissioner of the Iowa Insurance Division, in a release. He added that these schemes typically play on investors’ “fear of missing out” on lucrative investment opportunities, rather than anything to do with the technology itself.
The second-ranked threat, so-called pig-butchering schemes, where scammers develop relationships with victims and convince them to part with ever larger amounts of money, often also involve digital assets, NASAA noted. These kinds of scams were cited by 46% of regulators.
“Pig-butchering schemes are effective because bad actors have become adept at using fear and anxiety as tools for disarming investors,” said Brett Olin, co-chair of NASAA’s enforcement section committee.
NASAA noted that increased economic uncertainty and market volatility are being commonly exploited by scammers too.
“Skepticism and caution are the best defences to pig-butchering schemes,” Olin said. “Investors should take the time to independently investigate promoters and products before sending their funds.”
Social media and other sorts of online schemes were ranked as the third biggest threat by regulators (41%).