With the spread of blockchain and Bitcoin, also scams have begun to emerge, as criminals exploit this asset to orchestrate various deceptions and induce victims to hand over their private keys, for example.
There are many different types of scams in the Bitcoin world. In order to be careful and make users more and more aware, here is a list to recognize them.
The 5 most common scams related to the Bitcoin world
The first category relates to extortion by e-mail: criminals send e-mails to victims, sharing confidential information about them, usually an e-mail and password.
The criminal then pretends to be in possession of personal information or images, asking for a ransom in Bitcoin so as not to spread the material.
A popular variant of this email is called sextorsion, in which the criminal reveals to the victim that he has sexually compromising images and videos and asks for a ransom in Bitcoin.
What to do in the case of sextortion?
Once you have received a message like this, simply trash it before opening the content because there could also be harmful links inside it that could lead to some bad site or virus.
These threats are only fake and criminals are not really in possession of compromising images. Basically it’s just a bluff to obtain bitcoin.
The fake exchange scams
Another category of scams concerns fake exchanges which appear to have the same functions as the original ones. The victim has not the slightest doubt about the reliability of the same, since everything works normally and without suspicion.
Usually, the victim is lured into this exchange through social messages such as Discord, Instagram and similar, and is then invited to register. The procedure is very simple, requesting only email and password.
Unfortunately, once the funds are sent to these exchanges, the victim discovers that they cannot withdraw them in any way. Often these portals give reasons for account verification and prompt the user to submit and pass the KYC (Know Your Customer). We have discovered over 140 of these sites.
How to defend against fake exchanges?
The first thing to do is to delete the message of these fake exchanges and never enter your credentials into these types of platforms, otherwise criminals will have a database of emails linked to real people.
Bitcoin giveaway scams
Even gifts, such as giveaways, do not escape scams as criminals exploit names of famous people or news related to important projects, claiming to be giving cryptocurrencies to all those who will participate.
The scam is very simple: an article is written with some information about the person or a recent event that actually happened and then a website is built where the whole page is completely false and structured in such a way as to invite the user to send their crypto.
The modus operandi of these scams is to succeed in convincing the victim to send their crypto by means of a proven claim, i.e. to double their funds by simply sending a specific crypto to a specific address.
But of course this will not happen and you will lose your crypto.
Considering that we are talking about crypto and blockchain it is quite easy to unmask fake transactions, so in these cases simply take the criminal’s address and analyze it in a block explorer to check all the transactions and whether they match the web page.
One of the scams that unfortunately spreads and is very successful is phishing, a technique that aims to make the victim believe that they are interacting with the official platform of a service so that they can enter their credentials.
In this case, the criminals use fake platforms to recover victims’ e-mails and passwords, as happened in the recent case involving Ledger.
The victim receives an email inviting them to enter or update their device. Usually, this email contains a link that leads to a copy of the website, in which without the victim’s knowledge the victim enters the credentials and hands them over to the criminals.
How to defend oneself against phishing?
First of all, it is necessary to check and compare the sender of the email with the original ones and in case of discrepancies, it is better to delete the received email. It is important to never click on any link within the email itself because not only can it lead to a misleading page, but it can even contain a virus that will hide in our pc.
Finally, a frequent occurrence this year has been the phenomenon of ransomware, i.e. being forced to pay a ransom, usually in Bitcoin, to restore the systems of a company or, worse, a public administration.
The phenomenon is certainly on the rise, as the data report, and this pandemic has done nothing but increase this possibility since everyone is at home and does not have adequate knowledge of the measures to be taken to protect themselves from their homes.
The problem increasingly involves large companies, as in the case of the Argentinean telephone company. All it takes is opening an infected file within the company network to infect all the PCs in the entire company without being able to do anything.
In this case, the ransomware starts to encrypt all the files on the PCs, preventing access to them.
The only way to get them back is to have the file encryption key to unlock them.
And this is where the criminals offer the solution, inviting the victims to pay the ransom.
How to defend oneself against ransomware?
The first defence is to use preventive and always up-to-date tools such as antivirus, especially those specialized in identifying these threats.
Another recommendation is not to open suspicious attachments and as a last protection is to have an up-to-date backup system.