Cryptocurrency Giveaway Scams
We have seen an increase in cryptocurrency giveaway scams over the past week. In this briefing we will therefore take a look at how the scams operate, how effective they are and what you can do to protect yourself.
What are giveaway scams?
Giveaway scams are nothing new. In one form or another, they have been around for centuries. The basic pattern always involves an entity promising to gift the mark something valuable. Before the gift is supposedly sent, an advance fee is requested. This may take the form of “processing fees”, “investment”, “notification payments”, “transfer fees” or any number of others.
Once the advance fee has been paid, the gift is never sent.
A common form of this scam involves individuals claiming that the mark has won a lottery but must pay a transfer fee to receive the winnings. Others may involve supposed multi-million dollar inheritances from foreign relatives.
What are cryptocurrency giveaway scams?
Cryptocurrency giveaway scams operate on the same basic principle. The recent wave has usually used the following template:
We are donating 200 Ethereum to the ETH community! First 50 transactions with 0.2 ETH sent to the address below will receive 2.0 ETH in the address the 0.2 ETH came from.
The coin in question and exact amounts vary widely but the extreme similarity between different messages indicates that the same individual or group is behind most of the scam attempts.
The messages are shared on fake social media profiles that imitate those of legitimate investors, businesspeople or cryptocurrency exchanges. Messages might be added that this giveaway is in response to reaching a certain number of subscribers, having closed a big deal or as recompense for technical issues.
Looking at some of the wallet addresses used, it appears that thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies have been scammed from unsuspecting victims
What can I do to protect myself?
There are very few legitimate giveaways of currency. Companies or individuals hosting giveaways usually do so to promote a product or asset. We thus advise you to face any supposed cryptocurrency giveaway with extreme distrust.
Furthermore, any giveaway asking for sending an upfront fee is a scam. There is no way to get money back or trace the scammer when sending cryptocurrency . Even in the extremely rare cases where currency is sent to marks, it is most likely “dirty” coins stolen from an exchange which are laundered through the scheme.
In summary, there is no free lunch. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. And while this is obvious to most people in classical contexts, the novelty and excitement of cryptocurrencies may blind individuals to the risk.