Cryptocurrency fraud or How to become a victim of scams

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Beware of These Top 5 Bitcoin Scams

The value of bitcoins goes up, and then it comes back down. The press is all over the story. Pundits and market watchers all have their opinion and voice it loudly across the airwaves and the Internet.

Bitcoin has taken us all on quite a rollercoaster ride. Only time will tell whether this cryptocurrency, which has been controversial since its introduction in 2008, will continue booming or if the bubble will burst and prompt more people to short-sell Bitcoin.

One thing is certain: Bitcoin’s meteoric rise has attracted a lot of attention. People may not understand the technology or philosophy behind Bitcoin, but they do see stories of early adopters and savvy investors who turned a few thousand bucks into millions when Bitcoin’s value increased.

And they want to be one of them.

Unfortunately, that puts them in a position—along with veteran investors—to be victims of opportunistic con artists and hackers who perpetrate Bitcoin scams. One of the benefits of cryptocurrency is that it’s unregulated by the government and very private. But that also makes it ripe for fraud.

Let’s check out the top five Bitcoin scams you need to look out for:

Bitcoin Scam 1: Fake Bitcoin Exchanges

In 2020, South Korean financial authorities and the local Bitcoin community exposed one of the most insidious Bitcoin scams: a fake exchange called BitKRX. It presented itself as part of the largest trading platform in the country and took people’s money. To avoid this, you should stick with popular, well-known Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin forums so you get news of fakes quickly.

Bitcoin Scam 2: Ponzi Schemes

Bernie Madoff is perhaps the most well-known Ponzi schemer. He did it with mainstream investments. But the principle of a pyramid scheme, in which you take money from new investors to pay previous investors, can be applied to Bitcoin scams. MiningMax, one such scheme, brought in $200 million before 14 fraudsters were arrested. As you can imagine, the investors never got any returns on their Bitcoin investments.

Bitcoin Scam 3: Fake Cryptocurrencies

A common scam is to present a new cryptocurrency as an alternative to Bitcoin. The idea is that it’s too late to cash in on Bitcoin and that you need to invest in one of these up-and-coming cryptocurrencies. My Big Coin was shut down for this reason. The fraudsters behind My Big Coin took $6 million from customers to invest in the fake cryptocurrency and then redirected the funds into their personal bank accounts.

Bitcoin Scam 4: Old School Scams

If somebody emailed or called and said they were from the IRS and that you owed back taxes that had to be paid immediately, would you send them money? Many people do. Instead of having the victim wire money via Western Union or transfer funds to a bank account, con artists are contacting victims and demanding that victims transfer bitcoins. The best way to avoid this scam is to be skeptical of phone calls or emails that say they’re from a government agency. Legitimate authorities wouldn’t contact you that way, and they won’t ask for bitcoins.

Bitcoin Scam 5: Malware

Malware has long been a way for hackers to get passwords needed to access computer networks or steal credit card and bank account numbers. Now they’re using it to conduct another one of the most common Bitcoin scams. If your Bitcoin wallet is connected to the Internet, they can use malware to get access and drain your funds if you’re not protecting yourself from malware.

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You can download malware by clicking links in your email. You can also download it from websites and social media. There might be a post, for example, where someone claims a certain program allows you to mine bitcoins for free. Download it, and you get malware.

When in Doubt, Verify

If you’re not sure of a website or email’s legitimacy, contact the company involved directly. If you can’t find the company’s contact information easily on social media or on its website, that’s a red flag.

Don’t Fall Victim to Bitcoin Scams

Bitcoin is a volatile enough investment as it is. Don’t increase your chances of losing money by falling prey to these Bitcoin scams. Stay alert for potential fraudsters and trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

4 Common Cryptocurrency Scams and How to Avoid Them

As you become involved in the new digital monetary mechanisms known as cryptocurrency, it doesn’t take long to recognize there’s risk involved in these transactions. And we’re not talking about the volatility of the market. Scams are everywhere online, and cryptocurrency exchanges are no different. As you consider investing in different startups and exchange platforms, be aware of the possibilities of losing your cryptocurrency investments.

When you’re looking into digital cryptocurrency companies and startups, experts recommend that you confirm that they’re blockchain-powered, which means they track detailed transaction data. Also, check that they have solid business plans that solve real problems. Companies should specify their digital currency liquidity and ICO rules. There should be real people behind the company. If the startup you’re investigating lacks some of these characteristics, think through your decision even more carefully.

Here’s in a look at the more common scams and ways to avoid becoming a victim as you join the exciting future of cryptocurrency.

1- Imposter Websites

You may be following a solid tip from someone with a lot of expertise but still become a victim by accidently visiting a fake website. There’s a surprising number of websites that have been set up to resemble original, valid startup companies. If there isn’t a small lock icon indicating security near the URL bar and no “https” in the site address think twice.

Even if the site looks identical to the one you think you’re visiting, you may find yourself directed to another platform for payment. For example, you click on a link that looks like a legitimate site, but attackers have created a fake URL with a zero in it instead of a letter ‘o’. That platform, of course, isn’t taking you to the cryptocurrency investment that you’ve already researched. To avoid this, carefully type the exact URL into your browser. Double check it, too.

2- Fake Mobile Apps

Another common way scammers trick cryptocurrency investors is through fake apps available for download through Google Play and the Apple App Store. Although stakeholders can often quickly find these fake apps and get them removed, that doesn’t mean the apps aren’t impacting many bottom lines. Thousands of people have already downloaded fake cryptocurrency apps, reports Bitcoin News.

While this is a greater risk for Android users, every investor should be aware of the possibility. Are there obvious misspellings in the copy or even the name of the app? Does the branding look inauthentic with strange coloring or an incorrect logo? Take note and reconsider downloading.

3- Bad Tweets and Other Social Media Updates

If you’re following celebrities and executives on social media, you can’t be sure that you’re not following impostor accounts. The same applies to cryptocurrencies, where malicious, impersonating bots are rampant. Don’t trust offers that come from Twitter or Facebook, especially if there seems to be an impossible result. Fake accounts are everywhere.

If someone on these platforms asks for even a small amount of your cryptocurrency, it’s likely you can never get it back. Just because others are replying to the offer, don’t assume they aren’t bots, either. You have to be extra careful.

4- Scamming Emails

Even if it looks exactly like an email you received from a legitimate cryptocurrency company, take care before investing your digital currency. Is the email the exact same, and are the logo and branding identical? Can you verify that the email address is legitimately connected to the company? The ability to check on this is one reason why it’s important to choose a company that has real people working for it. If you have doubts about an email, ask someone who works there. And never click on a link in a message to get to a site.

Scammers often announce fake ICOs, or initial coin offerings, as a way to steal substantial funds. Don’t fall for these fake email and website offers. Take your time to look over all the details.

Unfortunately, there are many ways that some Internet users exploit unsecure computing systems to mine or steal cryptocurrency. Learn more about staying safe and protecting yourself in this emerging market before you start investing in cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency Fraud

AARP | Comments: 0

En español | Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether and hundreds more are a hot commodity in online trading, and it’s possible for a smart investor to make a big profit. But the prospect of quick riches can blind some people to the risks and enable crooks to lure them into scams.

What is cryptocurrency? According to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), it’s a digital representation of value that isn’t backed by any government or central bank. Even so, this virtual money can be used to make purchases, and it can be exchanged for U.S. dollars or other conventional currencies.

But unlike government-backed money, the value of virtual currencies is driven entirely by supply and demand. That can create wild swings that produce big gains for investors, or big losses. And cryptocurrency investments are subject to far less regulatory protection than traditional financial products like stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

For all cryptocurrency’s high-tech gloss, many of the related scams are just newfangled versions of classic frauds. The CFTC has warned about “pump and dump” scammers who use messaging apps and chat rooms to plant rumors that a famous business mogul is pouring millions of dollars into a certain digital currency, or that a major retailer, bank or credit card company is going to partner with it. Once they’ve lured investors to buy and driven up the price, the scammers sell their stake and the currency plummets in value.

Some cryptocurrency crooks run virtual variations on the old Ponzi scheme, peddling nonexistent opportunities to invest in digital currencies and creating the illusion of big returns by paying off old investors with new investors’ money. Once such operation, called BitClub Network, raised more than $700 million before its principals were indicted in December 2020, according to federal prosecutors.

Others fraudsters pose as legitimate virtual currency traders or set up phony exchanges to lure people into giving them money. Another con involves fraudulent sales pitches for “IRS approved” individual retirement accounts in cryptocurrencies. There are also straight-up hackers who break into the “digital wallets” where people store their virtual currency.

The North American Securities Administrators Association, a nonprofit that represents securities regulators in the United States, Canada and Mexico, named cryptocurrency fraud as one of the top threats to investors in 2020. If you want to dip into this brave new world of money, take these precautions to avoid being ripped off.

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