As the world of cryptocurrencies continues to grow, so do the number of scammers attempting to take advantage of unsuspecting investors. Recently, Krebs on Security had the chance to interview a self-proclaimed “crypto scam investment spammer,” who offered insights into the tactics and strategies used by scammers in this space.
The interviewee, who went by the pseudonym “John,” claimed to have been involved in scamming people through cryptocurrency investments for several years. He stated that the two main strategies employed by scammers in this space are phishing and fake investment opportunities.
Phishing involves tricking people into revealing their private information, such as login credentials, by posing as a trustworthy entity. John explained that this tactic is commonly used to gain access to people’s cryptocurrency wallets. Scammers will send out emails or messages posing as a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange or wallet provider, requesting users to enter their account details. Once the scammers have this information, they can easily access the victim’s wallet and transfer funds out of it.
The second strategy, fake investment opportunities, is a popular tactic in the world of cryptocurrencies. John stated that scammers will often create fake investment opportunities, such as initial coin offerings (ICOs), promising high returns on investment. They will then market these opportunities through spam emails, social media advertisements, and other similar channels, targeting individuals who are not well-versed in cryptocurrency investing.
John shared that the scammers often go to great lengths to make their fake investment opportunities seem genuine. They will create professional-looking websites, use real photos of high-profile individuals in the cryptocurrency industry, and even pay people to act as “testimonials” of the investment opportunity’s success.
When asked about who the scammers target, John said that they often focus on individuals who are new to the world of cryptocurrencies or those who are desperate for fast money. He explained that there are many people who have heard about the tremendous gains that can be made through cryptocurrency investments and are willing to take a risk to get in on the action.
According to John, scammers are also drawn to wealthy individuals who are not tech-savvy. These people may have a large amount of cryptocurrency stored in their wallets, making them attractive targets for hackers.
When questioned about how scammers get away with these illegal activities, John stated that cryptocurrencies’ decentralized nature makes it challenging to track down the scammers. Additionally, many victims are often too embarrassed to report the crime or don’t realize that they have been scammed until it’s too late. Consequently, the scammers can quickly disappear after the scam is completed, making it challenging for law enforcement to hold them accountable.
John’s interview provided valuable insights into how scammers operate in the world of cryptocurrency investing. It’s clear that users must be cautious when investing in cryptocurrencies and always conduct their due diligence before investing in any opportunity. As the cryptocurrency industry continues to grow, it’s essential that regulators and law enforcement agencies increase their efforts to protect investors from scams and fraudulent activities. Only then can the industry reach its full potential without being tainted by bad actors seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting investors.
Social networks are facing an ongoing battle against inauthentic bot accounts that send direct messages to users promoting scam cryptocurrency investment platforms. Recently, several large Mastodon communities temporarily halted new registrations due to a spam torrent unleashed by a Russian hacker known as Quotpw, who admitted to operating a spam botnet for the crypto scam. The spammers used more than 1,500 internet addresses across 400 providers to register new accounts, which then followed popular accounts on Mastodon and sent direct messages to the followers of those accounts. Many of the newly registered Mastodon spam accounts were created using the same 0auth credentials with the domain quot[.]pw, which has been registered and abandoned by several parties since 2014. The most recent registration data available shows it was registered in March 2020 to someone in Krasnodar, Russia, with the email address [email protected]. Various records link this address to accounts on several Russian cybercrime forums, including “__edman__,” who had a history of selling “logs” or data stolen from many bot-infected computers, as well as giving away access to hacked Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Quotpw confirmed that the Mastodon spam was powered by their software, which they recently released as open source on GitHub, and claimed that they had earned more than $2,000 by sending about 100,000 private mentions to users of different Mastodon communities over the past few weeks. The spam waves have died down since Mastodon was retrofitted with a CAPTCHA, which has stymied automated account creation tools.