What Are the Most Common Cryptocurrency Scams?
What are the most common cryptocurrency scams? Like so many other issues related to scams, fraud, hacking, and identity theft, many are updated versions of old tricks and cons. Do you know what they are?
Common Cryptocurrency Scams: The Impostor
Basically, impostor websites are created to trick you into thinking you are dealing with an organization just as well-established as Bitcoin, or one that is a rising star in the industry. Impostor websites may just be a front to harvest your private information to sell down the line on the dark web, or they may try to mimic real, established cryptocurrency players to fool the unsuspecting into thinking they are dealing with a company they know or have heard of.
Some digital security experts say there is a “surprising amount” of scam sites set up to look like existing companies. What are the hallmarks of such fake websites? Unusual web addresses can be a dead giveaway. If you do not see the indications that the web address you want to visit is not secure–avoid them at all costs. What indicators?
- Look for an icon depicting a lock near the URL bar–if it is missing, the site is not secure.
- Look for the “https” in the web address–if there is none, avoid.
- Look carefully at the web address–does it look like a legitimate URL but with a minor modification to the name like substituting a zero for the letter O? If so, avoid.
Impostor scams are not limited to bogus websites. You may get emails, texts, or social media messages announcing new cryptocurrency offerings, discounts, celebrity matching funds offers, or other dubious things. The key to avoiding a scam via email? Never reply to emails you didn’t ask for, especially when these emails are trying to sell you something or want you to provide personal information. Don’t do it.
One of the best examples of impostor scams came on July 15, 2020 when 130 high profile Twitter accounts (including celebrities and famous names like Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, and many others) suddenly blasted out a matching offer for cryptocurrency purchases–the compromised celeb accounts promised payments of double the cryptocurrency investment for those responding to the scam.
Arrests were made at the end of July, 2020 and three people were charged with wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.
Cryptocurrency Scams–Fake Apps
Apps are tricky because those who use apps are likely familiar with Apple Store and Google policies about removing apps that don’t fit their terms of service. When you see an app in the Apple Store, you assume it has been vetted, often due to these policies. But what you should know is that scammers prey on vulnerable app downloaders by putting bogus apps online and harvesting the results for as long as they can get away with before being shut down.
What that means is that if you download a cryptocurrency app that has been created by scammers, you’re trusting that Google or Apple has already vetted that software. A bogus app might not survive more than 12 or 24 hours (even less, depending) before being removed, but the damage may have already been done for users who don’t question their assumptions about the safety of the apps they use.