Cryptocurrency scams? What you need to know

People are obsessed with cryptocurrencies. Digital currencies like bitcoin the Monero the Ethereum and the Dogecoin are found everywhere on the internet.

The sharp rise in their value promises big profits for investors (before coin prices fall, that is). And the "fortunes" that can be created from fictitious mining are reminiscent of the gold rush back in the 1800s. team of the global cybersecurity company ESET.

In fact, if you are interested in cryptocurrencies today, you are very likely to run the risk of being scammed. This is the new Wild West - a lawless, uncontrollable world where malicious criminals often have the upper hand. Fraud prevention rules apply here as well. Everything you read on the internet should be carefully reviewed and checked. Keep your reservations about the "noise" of publicity and you will have a good chance of staying safe, says Phil Muncaster from ESET.

Why are cryptocurrency scams on the rise?

Scammers use current affairs and popular trends to deceive their victims. And there is nothing more topical than cryptocurrencies. Media articles and social media posts are partly responsible, as they create a cycle of publicity feedback that reinforces the hysteria surrounding virtual currencies. The result; From October 2020 to May 2021, Americans lost about $ 80 million (€ 71 million) in thousands of cryptocurrency scams. according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In the United Kingdom, the amount is even higher: the British police claim that the victims lost more than 146 172 million (€ 2021 million) in the first nine months of XNUMX.

Why are such scams on the rise? Because:

  • In the cryptocurrency market there are few or no rules for investors, compared to the traditional stock market.
  • The huge interest of the media is a good bait for phishing and other types of scams.
  • Cryptocurrency boom attracts people who dream of getting rich quick
  • Social media helps to amplify the noise, real or imagined
  • There is also the lure of coin mining for money, which cybercriminals can use as a hook.
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What are the most common cryptocurrency scams?

If you have digital money stored securely in a cryptocurrency exchange, you may be threatened by hackers. In many cases, cybercriminals have managed to extract funds from these companies, sometimes even "raising" hundreds of millions. However, usually the companies that are violated promise to compensate their customers. Unfortunately, there are no such assurances for victims of cryptocurrency fraud. If you fall victim to fraud you can lose a lot of money.

It's worth understanding what these scams look like. According to Phil Muncaster from ESET these are some of the most common:

Investor "pyramids": This is a species investment fraud where victims are tricked into investing in a non-existent company or a "quick fortune" scheme, which in fact does nothing more than fill a scammer's pocket. Cryptocurrencies are ideal for this type of scam, as scammers are always inventing new, undefined "cutting-edge" technologies to attract investors and generate greater virtual profits. Data falsification is easy when the currency is fictitious anyway.

The "bubble" phenomenon: Exhibiting false information scammers encourage investors to buy shares from not-so-well-known cryptocurrency companies. Then the share price rises and the scammer sells his own shares, making a satisfactory profit and leaving the victim with useless shares.

Fake celebrity ads: Scammers hack into celebrity social media accounts or create fake accounts and encourage their followers to invest in fake schemes like the one above. In a well-made scam, about $ 2 million was lost to fraudsters who they even included the name of Elon Musk in a Bitcoin address, in order to make the trick more reliable.

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Fake exchanges: Scammers send emails or post messages on social media promising access in virtual cash stored in cryptocurrency exchanges. The only pitfall is that the user usually has to pay a small fee first. In fact, the exchange does not exist and their money is lost forever.

Dangerous applications: Cybercriminals falsify law cryptocurrency applications and upload them to app stores. If you install one of these applications it may steal your personal and financial information or install malware on your device. Others may trick users into paying for non-existent services or trying to steal passwords for their cryptocurrency wallet.

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Fake press releases: Sometimes scammers even manage to trick journalists, who republish false information. This happened on two occasions, when major news websites wrote stories about large commercial chains preparing to accept certain cryptocurrencies. The fake coupons type on which these stories were based were part of plans aimed at increasing the value of the cryptocurrencies held by the fraudsters.

Phishing/ authentication: Phishing is one of the most popular ways for fraudsters to act. Emails, text messages, and social media messages are falsified to appear to be sent from a legitimate, trusted source. Sometimes this "source" - for example, a credit card provider, a bank or a government official - requests payment in cryptocurrencies. They will try to force you to act hastily without thinking about it.

What can you do to avoid being scammed?

The best weapon in the fight against fraud is suspicion. Unfortunately, we live in an age where not everything we read on the internet is true. Many of them are designed to deceive and harm us. With that in mind, try the following to avoid being scammed:

  • Never give out your personal information to anyone who comes in contact with you unannounced, via email, text, social media, etc. It may even appear that the sender is a friend of yours, but in reality it could be a hacker who has compromised his email or social media account. Communicate individually with each other in some other way.
  • If something looks too good to be true, then it probably isn't. Deal with any investment schemes with a high degree of distrust
  • Enable two-factor authentication for each cryptocurrency account you have
  • Reject any investment "opportunity" that requires a down payment
  • Never use unofficial app stores
  • Install anti-malware software from a reputable provider on your PC and mobile devices

"People may have lost their minds about cryptocurrencies, but that does not mean you should be fooled," says ESET's Phil Muncaster. Keep your cool and ignore the doro.

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Although the press releases will be from very select to rarely, I said to go ... because sometimes the authors are hiding.

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