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Elizabeth Warren highlights surge crypto scams against seniors, endorses protective legislation | Regulation Politics

Senator Elizabeth Warren warned of cryptocurrency scams targeting seniors, citing a $2.5 billion loss in 2022 and endorsing new protective legislation.

Senator Elizabeth Warren raised concerns about the increasing number of cryptocurrency scams targeting senior citizens during a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging on November 16th. She referenced data from the FBI, indicating that these scams resulted in a staggering $2.5 billion in losses for consumers in 2022, with a primary focus on older individuals.

The senator emphasized that the aging population is particularly vulnerable to these fraudulent schemes, citing a 350% surge in crypto investment scams targeting seniors in the past year. This alarming increase resulted in over $1 billion in losses for seniors, a figure that Warren believes is likely an underestimate.

During the committee hearing, Warren interviewed expert witness Steve Weisman, a lawyer and Senior Lecturer at Bentley University, who is also the main editor for Weisman highlighted the susceptibility of seniors to cryptocurrency scams due to changes in the aging brain, as well as the influence of greed and the "fear of missing out" (FOMO) commonly associated with crypto investments.

Weisman also pointed out the challenges in tracking fraudulent cryptocurrency transactions, particularly those that are moved through coin mixers, which provide a level of anonymity that aids scammers. Unlike traditional fraud involving credit cards, fraudulent crypto transactions are complex to block and trace.

In response to Warren's concerns, Weisman expressed support for the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, a legislation proposed by Warren that aims to address these issues. The act, reintroduced in July 2023, seeks to extend know-your-customer (KYC) requirements to more members of the blockchain industry, introduce reporting requirements for transactions involving over $10,000 in digital assets, and establish record-keeping requirements for "unhosted" or self-custodial wallets.

Warren's strong stance against cryptocurrency is well-documented, as she has highlighted its involvement in illicit activities such as drug trade, tax evasion, and terrorist financing. Her endorsement of the new protective legislation reflects her commitment to addressing the vulnerabilities of seniors in the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency landscape. This legislation has gained further support and is seen as a crucial step in safeguarding consumers, particularly older individuals, from falling victim to cryptocurrency scams.

The warning issued by Senator Warren serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting vulnerable populations from financial exploitation in the digital age, and the need for comprehensive measures to combat cryptocurrency fraud.

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