WEST HOLLYWOOD—The city is launching an effort to help inform community members about how to protect themselves from cryptocurrency fraud and scams.

The city of West Hollywood reported on its website that cryptocurrency is digital currency acquired through an app on a phone, a website, or at a cryptocurrency Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Bitcoin and Ether are well-known cryptocurrencies, but there are others. Scammers can use cryptocurrencies because they do not have the same legal protections as credit cards or debit cards, and payments usually cannot be reversed.

Here are some tips to avoid cryptocurrency scams:

-Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency. No legitimate business or government agency will demand any type of payment with cryptocurrency; that is a scam.
-Never pay a fee to get a job. If someone asks for upfront payment to secure a job with cryptocurrency or any other type of payment; that is a scam.
-Never mix cryptocurrency and online dating. If a potential online date asks for cryptocurrency or wants to “help” invest in crypto; that is a scam.
-Do research on companies and organizations before investing or sending money to avoid falling victim to an illegitimate company or website. When companies or websites (fake or not) have look or sound-alike names to well-known organizations, the potential confusion created for consumers is real. Attempting to take advantage of such confusion is a tactic employed by bad actors looking to profit from unsuspecting consumers.

The State of California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced the launch of a Crypto Scam Tracker to help Californians spot and avoid crypto scams. The tracker details apparent crypto scams identified through a review of complaints submitted by the public and allows California consumers and investors to complete their own research and prevent harm to themselves and others.

The site features a database searchable by company name, scam type, or keywords to learn more about the crypto-specific complaints the DFPI received. An accompanying glossary aims to help consumers better understand common scams. As reports of new crypto scams emerge, the DFPI will continually update this tracker to promptly alert and protect the public.

For community members who believe they have been a victim of a scam or fraud, or hear about a scam that is currently not listed on the Scam Tracker should notify the DFPI immediately by filing a complaint with the DFPI online at https://dfpi.ca.gov/submit-a-complaint or by calling toll-free: (866) 275-2677.

For more details contact Anita Shandi, West Hollywood’s Public Safety Manager at (323) 848-6446 or at ashandi@weho.org. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing call TTY (323) 848-6496.