With the value of Bitcoin soaring exponentially in recent times, more and more people are choosing to invest in cryptocurrencies with the hope of making a fortune.
Sadly, chasing a fortune can come at great costs for many, as the threat of opportunistic hackers is always prevalent. Those who carry out Bitcoin scams are well aware of the unregulated nature of cryptos and take advantage of unassuming investors who are oblivious to the rampant fraud in the crypto space. Of course, if you fall prey to a scam, it can mean you are short-changed the next time you want to play at the best crypto casino.
Bitcoin scams have evolved together with the evolution of the cryptocurrency’s infrastructure and investor base. Essentially, this means that fraudsters use more sophisticated methods to convince investors to fall for their devious schemes. If you are new to cryptocurrencies and BTC, here are some scams you should watch out for.
Fifteen Well Known Bitcoin Scams To Look Out For
Investors coming to grips with bitcoin may encounter attempts of blackmail from strangers who focus on extortion as their primary goal.
Blackmail is typically executed through email, where the fraudster contacts you under false pretences. The fraudster usually informs you that your computer has been hacked remotely. Moreover, the fraudsters may lie about having access to your webcam to observe what you are doing.
Fraudsters who use this method offer their victims two options in these circumstances.
They may ask you to send BTC to them, so they do not divulge your personal information to the public.
Alternatively, they threaten to distribute your private content on public online platforms if you choose not to act on their requests.
More often than not, fraudsters use stolen and leaked information from other users to scare you into submission.
It is recommended that you remain steadfast in the face of a blackmailer’s request and not allow yourself to get bullied into submission. Always remember that hackers may use false information to get you to part with crypto.
2. Fake Exchanges
As more people join in on the cryptocurrency investment craze, more scammers have emerged, with more sophisticated bitcoin scams used to deceive innocent investors.
One of the ways that fraudsters lure newcomers is by creating fake bitcoin exchanges. Those who are not au fait with the cryptocurrency environment are enticed by the competitive market prices on offer at these fake exchanges.
With easy access to BTC at a relatively low market price, many unsuspecting investors are conned out of their hard-earned money at fake exchanges. Therefore, it is always recommended to use reputable exchanges when purchasing or selling crypto.
3. Free Giveaways
Scammers often use free giveaways as bait to trap people who are new to the cryptocurrency environment.
New investors may be enticed by offering a free BTC giveaway by registering on a specific platform and paying a small registration fee. Registration is usually confirmed upon divulging personal details and paying the requested registration fee.
But, those who participate in the giveaway never see their rewards and are often left out of pocket. In such instances, it is always important to report the platforms as fraudulent to spare other unsuspecting victims from the same heartache.
Fraudsters have found impersonation to be one of the extremely effective bitcoin scams for conning their victims. Impersonation is usually done through social media, where fake social media accounts mirror the account of somebody the victim knows. Once the person being impersonated posts something on their social media feed, the imposter usually adds a follow-up message that typically contains a link.
This follow-up message normally has a call to action that encourages people to act on what they see. Friends of the original person are duped into believing that the original person has encouraged them to the call of action and subsequently act on that content posted by the imposter. Fraudsters also take things to another level by privately messaging contacts of the original person and encouraging these contacts to act on something.
The usual call to action is a free giveaway, and users are cautioned not to act on these, no matter how promising the giveaway may sound. If ever you receive a strange request on social media from somebody on your contact list, double-check the authenticity of that request through another platform, preferably from the contact themselves.
Malicious software is popular amongst cryptocurrency hackers, as it is relatively easy to deceive innocent people. With many malware programs in circulation, they can modify Bitcoin addresses after installing them. This is typically done when a user copies and pastes their address from a clipboard.
Unbeknown to the innocent party, the pasted address is converted to the hacker’s bitcoin address, and the funds are diverted fraudulently with little intervention from the hacker. It is important to check the address you are sending to multiple times before confirming your transactions. This will go a long way in mitigating your funds from reaching the wrong hands.
Once a transaction has been confirmed on the BTC network, there is no way to reverse that. People often only realise after the transaction is processed, which is too late to do anything.
It is recommended to limit administrator access to software on your device and to use an updated virus scanner to help you to identify possible threats on your system. This is, however, not a guarantee against devious techniques employed by hackers.
6. Physical Meetings
If you are in a situation where you want to purchase or sell BTC locally, you may be requested to meet in person to facilitate the exchange. This is not recommended unless you know the individual you wish to transact with.
Many unsuspecting victims get lured into meeting physically and get robbed and injured. Fraudsters also use counterfeit fiat currencies traded for the victim’s crypto. It is safer and wiser to use a peer-to-peer platform that can facilitate your transaction securely as opposed to meeting individuals for that purpose.
7. Money Transfers
Another one of the bitcoin scams is when fraudsters target people new to cryptocurrencies, approaching them with a request to help move funds. They usually contact their targets electronically through email or some inbound communication. They promise them a portion of the transfer fee for the services they require.
It is recommended that you do not reply to communication or engage in communication with these fraudsters, as you may inadvertently give them access to your private information. This, in turn, will enable them to access your BTC unhindered and undetected.
8. Phishing Emails
You must always be alert when receiving emails that appear to be from familiar sources, such as the services that you use. Hackers spend a lot of time gathering personal information about you and may trick you with phishing emails that request some compliance from your end in the form of a call to action. Generally, these are requests to change your password or click on a link about your account.
It can be extremely difficult to distinguish between authentic and fake emails as hackers go out of their way to make their communication believable in order to trap you. If ever you have doubts about the email’s authenticity, always contact your service provider directly and ascertain if the request is authentic.
Furthermore, be sure to contact the service provider using the contact details on their official platforms, for example, their website or social media accounts.
9. Phishing Websites
Phishing websites work closely with phishing emails to create clever bitcoin scams. The links in the email usually direct the user to a fake website mirrored on the authentic one. These fake sites can be used to obtain your login credentials and access your accounts.
When viewed through a search engine, fake websites will appear to be sponsored or pop up in App Marketplaces. These are clear signs that you should be vigilant if you doubt the authenticity of a website, exercise caution and contact your service provider directly with your concerns.
10. Ponzi Schemes
Ponzi Schemes have led to the financial ruin of many innocent people, and scammers continue to use this technique as people are always convinced of its methods.
Con artists typically will offer you an attractive guaranteed return on your BTC investment if you commit to an upfront deposit. This is classified as a Ponzi scheme, as the BTC of future depositors is used to pay off existing investors.
The newer investors are usually the ones affected the most in these bitcoin scams, although almost all investors in the chain are affected financially.
11. Pyramid Schemes
Pyramid schemes are another devious method for scammers to convince you to part with your crypto.
Participants are usually offered very attractive returns based on how many people they convince to join the scheme. This model flourishes at the beginning for those at the top, while the lower end sees little reward. This scheme typically collapses, with most of its members suffering heavy financial losses.
It is wise not to invest in pyramid schemes and to hold back on encouraging people in your network to join them. As enticing as boosting your BTC may sound when inviting others to join you, it could lead to losing much more.
12. Prize Giveaways
This works similarly to free giveaways. Scammers create these elaborate bitcoin scams and offer people unbelievable prizes in return for their personal information and for them to act on a specific request.
Typically, you will be required to click on a link before entering your personal information to claim your prize. The information gathered by these scammers can then be used to impersonate you, log in to your accounts and deplete you of your hard-earned BTC.
13. Pump and Dump Schemes
These are usually strangers who confidently claim to boost your investment as they have inside knowledge of future BTC prices. They encourage you to invest with them and assure you of an incredible return on your investment.
These crooks then falsely pump up the price and then dump their holdings, bringing them a nifty profit. On the other hand, you will be out of pocket as your BTC would have been a means to an end. Always refuse such offers as they usually end up in tears.
Ransomware is malicious software that restricts access to your device, either partially or fully, and will keep your device locked until a Bitcoin ransom is paid. As scary as this sounds, a trusted software professional may be able to assist you with removing this ransomware without parting with a Bitcoin ransom.
As far as bitcoin scams go, in this one, fake software usually mirrors authentic software that you may have used previously, which leads you to trust it. Upon installation of the software, hackers then have unhindered access to your device.
15. Scam Coins
There are risks involved in investing in alternative coins. Scammers create scam coins and entice you to part with your BTC in exchange for them. They generally invite users to transact privately and offer presale discounts to get you to part with your currency. These scam coins have authentic websites and may showcase a large community.
Once on their platform, they may offer you free coins through airdrops in the hope that you will part with your BTC to add more scam coins. Their values are falsely inflated to lure you into your purchase, and users are often caught off-guard once the value of these scam coins plummets.
It is wise to stick to traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that have established themselves in the crypto space. And stay away from unfamiliar offerings, however attractive they may appear.
The Bottom Line
Scammers and hackers are becoming brazen in their bitcoin scams to defraud the innocent. If an offer appears too good to be true, it usually is. Always stay alert and trust your gut feeling.