Among the average cryptocurrencyA digital currency running on a blockchain and built with cryptography. Contrary to central-bank issued currency, cryptocurrency issuance rules are... More users, we also have a wide variety of cybercriminals. They’re dedicated to preparing all kinds of crypto scams to deceive their victims and take their funds for themselves. To make this possible, they’re constantly creating new malicious schemes, and 2022 isn’t a different year for them.
Indeed, the last year was very fruitful for these scammers. According to the analytics firm Chainalysis, there are currently “4,068 criminal whales holding over $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency” worldwide. By “whales”, they mean private wallets holding over $1 million in cryptos. All of this, stolen from average users and companies.
That’s why we need to know the latest tricks of cybercriminals. Let’s check some of their common schemes for this year.
Romance with crypto
This one isn’t getting old yet. We also mentioned it last year, and it’s still here, with some slight changes. You can find some of these scammers on dating apps, Facebook, Instagram, and probably other social media as well. They use stock images or steal someone’s else photo for their profiles, making them attractive for the victims. Then, they start to court their targets, pretending to share common interests.
That phase can go on for even months to earn the victim’s trust and affection. Once this objective is reached, the scammer will ask for money from the other party, usually in cryptocurrencies. They can pretend to be sick, to be incapable to access their money for some reason, or to need assistance of some kind. So, wanting to help someone they care about, the victims transfer their funds and the scam is complete.
Other tricks include fake checks and wire transfers and pretending to be an expert investor to recommend a fraudulent trading app. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the romance scammers stole over $139 million in crypto with these schemes only in 2021. The average losses amounted to $9,770 per victim. Never trust in someone you don’t know personally!
The ATMs crypto scam
This crypto scam is so elaborate that it’s hard to believe it exists —but it does. It’s done almost completely offline, so, you’ll also need to pay attention to suspicious phone calls and individuals. The scheme starts when someone calls you, pretending to be from the government, law enforcement, some utility company, a lottery brand, or a romantic interest. Sometimes, they can even pretend to be from your employer’s company.
The scammer will tell you a story about some pending fees or taxes, some other legal obligations, how you won a prize and you need to send them some funds first, or how the company needs you to transfer a certain amount for some reason. If you believe the story, the scammer will go on and guide you to the nearest store with a cryptocurrency ATM. Once there, they’ll make you buy crypto from this ATM —all this time on the phone with you.
Finally, they’ll send you a QR codeA graphical representation of a public or private key. Scanning QR codes is a simple way to share keys between... More of their own wallets and indicate that you need to send them the crypto you just bought. When you do this, the scam is complete and your money is lost. As the FTC explained about this: “Here’s the main thing to know: nobody from the government, law enforcement, utility company, or prize promoter will ever tell you to pay them with cryptocurrency. If someone does, it’s a scam, every time.”
TrueNorthBit and more
Fraudulent trading platforms are a very common type of crypto scam. They use to change domains and names from time to time, but the main premise remains. The scammers can reach their victims through social media or paid ads, and then try to convince them on the phone. These websites and apps use to offer high returns with minimal investments and claim that they’re using the money to make cryptocurrency trading.
The victims can see the promised high returns on the website, but, in the end, there’s no way to withdraw the money. That happened to Isabelle Lévesque, a woman from Calgary (Canada) who decided to invest on a platform dubbed TrueNorthBit. “Multiply your returns and create wealth”, is the motto of the mentioned brand.
After a minimum investment of $250, they promise to create a portfolio of stocks and cryptocurrencies to offer high returns in a short time. But, as Lévesque told to local media, there’s no way to recover the money if you decide to do so. A man from British Columbia (Canada) suffered the same fate after investing his retirement savings on a very similar platform, this time dubbed CityInvest GP. The name isn’t important, though: always do your own research (DYOR) before trusting any money to third parties.
Social media giveaways
Just as the FTC stated recently: “social media is a gold mine for scammers”. And not only for the “romantic” ones. The fake crypto giveaways are now an old trick, but they keep working on so many people. Especially because this crypto scam is evolving with new tactics.
The classic version includes some scammer impersonating a famous personality on Twitter or Facebook. Then, they’d send a public message announcing a crypto giveaway, only for those people who send them a fewer amount first to their wallets. Now, the scheme has extended to Discord and Instagram, where the scammers can even send some direct messages to their victims in order to convince them.
YouTube Live is another tool used by these scammers in 2022. As explained by the cybersecurity firm Tenable, the scammers are preparing live videos on YouTube, featuring notable people talking about cryptos, to present their fake giveaways. Besides, fake NFT giveaways are also common. The scammers can promise to mint brand new NFTs or even to create a game or DeFi platform that will never come.
Yes, you can be a victim even if you’re looking for a new job. The method goes as follows: the victim finds a job offer in a supposed cryptocurrency company, probably as “Portfolio Manager” or similar. Job boards like Indeed (available in 63 countries) can contain these kinds of fraudulent offers. Then, after some apparently legit interviews, the victim is hired and a high salary is promised.
The task to fulfill is simple for them: receive some wire transfers on their own bank accounts, use the money to buy BitcoinBitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency. It was created in 2009, by an anonymous founder or group of founders... More and other cryptos on behalf of the clients, and send those funds back to the company walletA crypto wallet is a user-friendly software or hardware used to manage private keys. There are software wallets for desktop... More. The problem surges when the bank calls the victim to inform them that each one of those deposits was a fraud, and now they should pay the money back.
At this point, the victim tries to contact their employer, but to no avail. And they’re left with debts of thousands of dollars: the crypto scam is complete. “Cryptocurity LLC” is a fraudulent company doing this scheme, but it might not be alone.
The final lesson? If something involves your money accounts, you should pay all of your attention. Research is important when your funds and/or your name are at stake, even if is apparently beyond the investment world. Always look for previous reviews and opinions, and be sure to read the terms and conditions for every platform or deal you’re considering.
Wanna trade BTCAn abbreviation for Bitcoin., ETH, and other tokens? You can do it safely on Alfacash! And not forget we’re talking about this and a lot of other things on our social media.
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