RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) wants to remind residents to watch out for cryptocurrency scams this year.

According to the AARP, the Federal trade Commission reported an increase in fraud involving crypto investment schemes in 2022, resulting in losses of more than $1 billion.

Crypto is a financial investment system that is not regulated by the United States government, and experts believe it’s very difficult to get your money back since it is virtually untraceable. Trudy Marotta with the AARP said crypto is not regulated by any agency that would normally protect your money.

“If you don’t understand it, stay away from it,” Marotta said.

Schemes using cryptocurrency as payment are on the rise, and Marotta has seen it first-hand. She said her friend in Arlington lost $25,000 after she fell for a scam like this.

“It’s awful. It’s a very horrible feeling and you feel as though, you know, ‘how could this happen to me? How could I have been so silly, so stupid to have fallen for this?'” Marotta said. “But it happens to millions of people every day.”

In the scam, criminals convince victims that there is some urgent matter that requires quick payment. A pop-up may appear on your computer indicating the computer has a virus and that you to need to relinquish control over your device. If you click on a link, it may connect you with a scammer. Criminals will convince victims to go to a nearby crypto ATM to convert cash into electronic currency.

This can happen on social media sites like Facebook and Linked In. It also can happen on dating sites and apps.

Marotta told 8News the best way to stop this scam is to spot the warning signs and not put a dollar into a cyber currency machine.

If you fall victim to a crypto scam, you should call your local police department and the FBI, as well as contact your bank and credit card companies.

Visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network for more information on how to avoid a similar scam.