KPRC 2 Investigates: Here are 3 ways thieves tried to steal your money in 2021

As you set your savings goals for 2022, our Investigates team has warnings about the most common ways people lost big in 2021.

As we head into a new year, you may be thinking about resolutions. A lot of people use the new year as a time to start saving money. As you set your savings goals for 2022, our Investigates team has warnings about the most common ways people lost big in 2021.

1. Watch who you trust when looking to invest your money

If you are looking to revamp your finances in 2022, buying into stocks or crypto may be on the list. You need to know - reports of cryptocurrency investment fraud are through the roof.

The Federal Trade Commission says in the past year, consumers reported losing $80-million - that’s ten times more than the previous year.

KPRC 2 Investigates suspected cryptocurrency fraud. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“To be honest, I knew it was kind of sketch from the beginning,” said Elias Garcia, Junior.

We introduced you to Elias Garcia junior in October. He started investing successfully at a young age, but when he purchased bitcoin through the website “Crypto Exchange Base,” he lost $3,000.

This website appears to still be up and running, but Elias is locked out of his account and can’t access his money. Steer clear of crypto sites that promise big payouts. There are reputable sites out there you can use like Coinbase, Gemini, and Robinhood.

2. Thieves could use fake websites to steal your money

Watch where you click online.

“We have seen in flocks of web pages for e-commerce, companies that don’t really exist that sell things,” said Haywood Talcove, CEO LexisNexis.

One way to spot a fake website. Check the URL and make sure it matches the store name. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

High tech thieves are rushing the internet, setting up fake shopping websites to steal your money. Check Point Research is seeing a record amount of fake shopping sites. Right now more than 5300 malicious websites are spotted per week.

There are clues that may tell you a website is fake, but thieves are really good at making them look real. You can check if a website is registered in the United States, which will give you a good clue if it’s legit.

3. Your cellphone could give thieves tons of information to use

This last warning is about how thieves are using your cell phone to get into your bank account.

“In the middle of my workday, the phone stopped working out of the blue,” said viewer Matt (who didn’t want to use his last name).

When Matt’s phone stopped working he took it to the closest T-mobile store. They popped in a new sim card and got it working again. But in that short time period, it was inactive thieves who had cashed checks totaling $30,000 in Matt’s bank account.

KPRC 2 Investigates sim swap fraud and how thieves can take over your phone and get into all of your accounts. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“What’s happening is all of their communication is getting routed to a different phone,” said FBI Special Agent David Ko.

All two-factor authentication that goes to your cell phone will be approved by the thieves who can then change passwords to your accounts. The best advice to protect yourself here is to not store passwords on your devices. We have some things you can do to harden your accounts, to make you less likely to become a victim of thieves swap your sim card.

Related: If you are looking to find a second job to bring in extra income in 2022, watch out for phony job offers. See what you need to look out for.

About the Authors:

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.