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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Crypto Giveaway Scams
November 06, 2022
Crypto Giveaway Scams
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Crypto Giveaway ScamsCrypto giveaway scams have evolved into an illicit market segment with multiple services. 63% of the new fraudulent domain names were registered with Russian registrars, but the fake websites are primarily designed to target English and Spanish-speaking crypto investors in the US and other countries.
The scammers used the footage of famous entrepreneurs and crypto enthusiasts to encourage users to visit a promotional website to double their crypto investment. In the first six months of 2022, there were more than 2,000 domains registered explicitly to be used as fake promotion websites. This figure increased almost five-fold compared to the second half of 2021 and 53-fold in comparison with H1 2021.
In the first quarter of 2022 (Jan-Mar), there were 583 fake websites involved in the scheme. In the second quarter, more than 1,500 more new domains were set up by scammers to promote fake giveaways.
Over 60% of scam domains involved in the scheme were registered via Russian domain name registrars. The primary source for attracting traffic to scam websites is YouTube, with Twitch and crypto streaming platforms trailing behind. To set up a fake stream, scammers either highjack YouTube accounts themselves using dedicated stealer tools or buy/rent accounts on underground forums for a percentage of the stolen funds, which in most cases is between 10% and 50% of the streamer’s earnings.
After gaining access to a legitimate account, a fake crypto streamer renames the channel, deletes all the previously uploaded videos from the playlist, changes the user pic, adds new design features, and uploads relevant crypto-related content.
When fraudsters start a stream, they use viewer-boosting tools to make it to the recommendations of their target audience. On average, attracting a thousand viewers would cost scammers $100, while five thousand are priced at $200.
Forums used by scammers make up a full-fledged marketplace that can help even first-time non-tech-savvy scammers carry out a crypto fraud scheme. It is of note that most of these forums are Russian speaking. Scammers have the following at their disposal: an exchange platform for hacked YouTube accounts, viewer boosting services, manuals, website editors, admin panel developers, domain names, bulletproof hosting, and tools and people who can create deepfake videos.
These mentors, designers, promotion specialists, and miscellaneous contractors charge an advance payment plus a percentage of the stolen funds.
The most popular service is crypto stream design. The average price ranges between $100 and $300, depending on the scope. Production of a deep fake video showing a celebrity would cost around $30.
Crypto giveaway scams have evolved into a profitable illicit market segment. Small-time scammers and more advanced cybercriminals band together, allowing them to automate and streamline operations.
Be vigilant about free giveaways and not to share confidential data on rogue websites. Double-check the legitimacy of the streams and the websites you visit using official sources only. If you cannot find any information about the promotion taking place, you are likely being deceived.
You risk being deceived twice if you have already transferred your crypto to fraudsters and want your money back. People who message victims on forums offering help often turn out to be scammers themselves.
If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.
Remember - always watch for scams!
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