Cryptocurrency news headlines last week were dominated by the fact that the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has filed a suit against YouTube. The story goes that his image was used in a cryptocurrency giveaway scam streamed over the Google-owned platform. That was just one of the recent cryptocurrency scams, which seem to be booming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking of which, the coronavirus crisis has inspired cybercriminals to take their scam business to the next level. Over the past couple of months, the world has seen a number of cryptocurrency scams focused on the COVID-19.
Fake WHO Crypto Donations
According to Better Business Bureau, cryptocurrency scams come in #2 in the list of most common internet frauds these days, just behind employment scams. It’s been like that for the past couple of years, coinciding with the rise of bitcoin.
However, the high price of the world’s most popular digital currency is not the main reason behind the rise of cryptocurrency scams. Instead, the way cryptos work is what makes them a more than a suitable tool for cybercriminals.
Given that cryptocurrency transactions are untraceable, if a scam goes through, the fraudster will get away with the money. This is why their only challenge is to persuade the victim to give send them cryptos.
To do that, fraudsters have started posing as charity organizations, asking for COVID-19 donations. It’s been reported that cybercriminals have sent emails pretending to come from the World Health Organization.
Other Coronavirus-Inspired Scyptocurrency Scams to Be Aware Of
As reported by BBC, the number of cryptocurrency scams has gone up exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, UK Finance has released a statement, warning people about financial support scams.
Some of the reported scams include the following:
- £7,500 COVID-19 grant given by the UK Government
- Council tax reduction offer
- Free Netflix subscription offer during the pandemic
- Fake coronavirus test kits, face masks, hand sanitizers, etc.
- Investment opportunities for coronavirus vaccine
In addition to the aforementioned scams, criminals have also been using fake news stories about the pandemic to make people fall victim to their phishing schemes.
Phishing Remains the Most Common Method
Cryptocurrency transfers are anonymous, so if a hacker gets ahold of someone’s wallet, they can easily steal the money, leaving no trace behind. Getting the sign-in details of a crypto user is the tricky part, for which the criminals use the so-called phishing schemes.
How these scams work is that emails are sent to potential victims, claiming they come from a real cryptocurrency exchange. In the email, they claim that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the user needs to agree on a new set of terms and conditions.
It may sound reasonable, all considered, which is why many users end up clicking the link included in the email. However, rather than leading to the real site of the exchange, it takes them to the fake one, owned by the fraudsters. When trying to sign-up to their account, the victim will unknowingly give away their login credentials to the scammers.