The Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has issued a warning to Montanans regarding a concerning cryptocurrency scam.

This scam targets businesses that participated in Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, a relief initiative aimed at aiding employers in retaining staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PPP Loan Scam in Montana

Fraudsters behind the scam capitalize on the ambiguity surrounding the repayment of PPP loans.

They deceive individuals into believing they owe repayment, coercing them to make payments using cryptocurrency to lift non-existent arrest warrants for loan default purportedly.

Notably, most PPP loans have been forgiven, rendering such repayment demands baseless.

Cryptocurrency Scam Tactics

Operating through phone calls, scammers intimidate victims with threats of imminent arrest should they terminate the call.

Victims are then instructed to withdraw significant sums from their personal or business accounts and transfer the funds via bitcoin ATMs to the scammers’ accounts.

Once deposited, the funds become irretrievable, eluding local law enforcement and federal agencies such as the FBI.

Targeted Approach

Access to sensitive data from federal databases and media outlets, including loan details and recipient information, enables scammers to target PPP loan recipients specifically.

In some instances, forged documentation is employed to substantiate the scammers’ claims, heightening the deception.

Tips to Avoid Falling Victim

  1. Verify Solicitations: Government agencies or law enforcement entities never demand money over the phone to resolve legal matters. Should you receive such demands, refrain from engaging and report the incident promptly.
  2. Exercise Caution: Refrain from divulging personal information or sending money to unknown parties, irrespective of the threats they issue.
  3. Trust Your Instincts: If a caller’s demeanor or the situation feels suspicious, trust your intuition and proceed cautiously.

Reporting Scams

Should you encounter or suspect a scam attempt, promptly report it using the OCP’s online reporting form.

Alternatively, you can contact an investigator at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit the OCP’s homepage at, or contact your local law enforcement agency.

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