Anna KeyThu, Jul 30, 2020 7:09 PM
How Crypto Scammers Manipulate People Through Social Media
Criminals continue to create new ways to steal funds. The number of crimes in the field of cryptocurrency is growing.
In 2019 criminals stole $4.3 billion in cryptocurrency. The most popular method was financial pyramids, which fraudsters presented as attractive investment opportunities. However, this trend is not constant. For example, in 2017, ICOs were the most popular method of stealing funds, and in 2018, it’s hacker attacks.
Now cases of theft of cryptocurrency have become more frequent in completely new ways.
Twitter hacker attacks
Hackers could collect more than $300 thousand as a result of the attack on Twitter, which occurred on July 15 and affected the accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and other billionaires, politicians, musicians. But this did not happen thanks to the intervention of cryptocurrency trading platforms.
Having hacked accounts, the scammers left messages on behalf of celebrities indicating bitcoin wallets. The attackers promised that users who would send coins to these addresses would get twice as much back. Thus, about $120,000 was stolen.
But some transactions were blocked by crypto exchanges. For example, Coinbase did not let more than 1,100 of its customers send 30.4 BTC to the hackers. At the current exchange rate, this is almost $280 thousand. Nevertheless, 14 users were able to send scammers about $3 thousand in bitcoin before the company blacklisted the cybercriminals' wallet.
Scammers often pose as someone else — the crypto world is not an exception. For example, in January, a Telegram attacker tried to impersonate a journalist for CoinDesk, a popular journal about cryptocurrencies. The criminal offered to "publish" a positive article about a project for only $600. The deception failed. But the journal found two victims who believed the deceivers and paid them.
YouTube scam attack
The YouTube video service is trying to fight scammers, but these efforts are clearly not enough. The service approved scam live streams exploiting celebrities that targeted users of VeChain (VET) tokens and offered them to "multiply their money".
The scammers promised to give away half a billion VET tokens live, and their stream attracted 38,000 viewers. They carefully selected some old videos from official conferences featuring Bill Gates and Elon Mask, for instance, added inserts, and attached a QR code, where you need to send funds in order to get back five times more. The only good news is that only three people believed the fraud. They sent a total of 320,000 VET worth $5,800.
While other completely legal broadcasts dedicated to cryptocurrencies are disabled due to "malicious content", YouTube's security system allows fraudsters to operate without hindrance. For this reason, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and other celebrities filed a lawsuit against the platform.
In early March, hardware wallet maker Ledger warned users about a rogue Google Chrome extension that steals passphrases to recover wallet passwords. By the way, the threat was first discovered and exposed on Twitter by Harry Denley from MyCrypto.
An extension called Ledger Live disguised itself as a real application of the same name, allowing Ledger wallet users to confirm transactions by syncing their hardware wallet to the device. Using heavy ad targeting the scammers asked the victims to synchronize the extension with the wallet by entering a seed phrase, after which they stole the coins.
Coronavirus panic scam
In March, the research company AnChain collected information on how criminals, amid a shortage of protection against coronavirus, sell masks and antiseptics for digital assets but do not send goods to customers.
The scammers put offers on social media marketplaces, no third-party oversight messaging platforms, and such online shopping giants like Amazon or eBay.
Fraudsters have thus stolen at least $2 million in cryptocurrencies. The growth of crypto-fraudulent crimes based on the panic around COVID-19 was also reported by Interpol.
Unfortunately, due to such incidents, the stereotype that cryptocurrency is connected with criminal activity is widespread. Nevertheless, it’s not entirely the only case of its use, and we believe that cryptocurrency has great potential to serve a good deed. Therefore, we recommend that you adhere to simple but effective rules when conducting operations with cryptocurrencies and no working with players of the crypto market unknown to you:
- Check all the information provided to you on several sources;
- Don't trust hugely lucrative offers;
- Complain about intruders and use security software;
- Feel free to check with crypto experts.