Phishing on cryptocurrencies – deception scheme, specifics, precautions

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Regular replenishment of the list of cryptocurrencies with new altcoins and the increasing demand for top coins with considerable value attract those who want to make money. In addition to speculators, investors and ordinary holders of virtual currencies, all kinds of scammers are interested in the cryptocurrency market. They systematically develop and often successfully implement new methods of fraudulent withdrawal of coins from gullible people.

Phishing deception of crypto coin holders is not new, but continues to demonstrate good efficiency. In other words, this is cryptocurrency phishing. The fraud scheme is simple, but, what is important, it is completely invisible to users until the time when a zero balance on a cryptocurrency account is discovered. Despite the “old age” and popularity of this technique, many careless, inattentive, sloppy people lose their own accumulations of digital coins because of it.

Let us analyze carefully the key points of phishing on cryptocurrencies, so that knowing the scheme of such theft, we will be able to competently prevent the loss of virtual money dear to your heart and wallet.

What is cryptocurrency phishing?

Users who are not knowledgeable in the field of Internet fraud need to clearly understand the details of the methodology for stealing other people’s bitcoins, altcoins or tokens by thieves. Otherwise, it will not be possible to avoid grief and financial loss. So, professionals in the modern sphere of blockchain technology define the phrase “phishing in cryptocurrencies” as a very popular, frequently encountered fraudulent scheme. The meaning of this method is simple – it is the extraction of secret user data in various ways. Thieves then use the stolen information (passwords, seed phrases, logins, etc.) to infiltrate crypto wallets or virtual currency exchange accounts to empty the accounts.

Nuance! Phishing scams have been actively practiced on the Internet for a long time. Even before Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum Classic, Tether, Litecoin and other cryptocurrencies, fraudsters actively took possession of the codes and secret passwords of users who had electronic money. Then fiat currency instantly disappeared from electronic wallets, accounts and bank cards!

Typically, phishing cyber thieves use a relatively simple but often effective technique. They send users e-mails containing various enticing information, with a mandatory link, which must be followed.

Many people, careless, inattentive and illiterate, “pecked” on the presented bait, succumbing to the temptation of free profit. Here, at some stage, drunk with sudden happiness, they left their password and their login. Depending on the specifics of the “enticement”, users gave data for bank cards, accounts of electronic wallets of payment systems, personal accounts, and so on. Thieves later took every penny out of the storage facilities. The careless, reckless poor fellow then yelled that he had been robbed and shed tears. However, he gave the scammers a login code with his own fingers, that is, he actually gave money.

The situation on the current crypto market is similar – Internet criminals are trying in every possible way to extract secret information related to the storage of digital coins and accounts of crypto-exchanges. More often phishing attempts are made to get private keys from wallets in order to pick up cryptoassets located there.

Important! It is extremely rare now that mass sending of emails brings effective results to fraudsters. They try to initially build a base of users actively working with digital coins or constantly showing interest in coins. Basically, these curious people are “sold” by the owners of thematic web resources!

Standard phishing scheme for crypto scammers

Thieves who make money by phishing in virtual currencies strictly follow a well-developed scheme of actions. The standard set of measures for fraudsters consists of a sequence of stages.

  1. Search for target orientation. Here, a selection of cryptocurrencies is carried out, with which further work lies ahead. The features of current crypto wallets and the necessary decentralized platforms are also being studied.
  2. Identification of the target audience. The fraudster, determined to commit theft, concentrates efforts to collect as much information as possible about the people using the chosen platform and coin storage. A thief needs people who contain crypto coins in their wallets, otherwise energy is wasted. The target group is searched relatively quickly on thematically specialized resources – communities, forums, groups, chats, etc.
  3. Formation of the bait letter. Here, the fraudster needs to delicately compose a message so that the user’s doubt immediately fades away at the sight of the inspired formality and illusory seriousness. Cautious people, afraid of viruses, with a scanty blot or a mistake made by the author, will quickly forward this message to the “SPAM” folder without clicking on the link.
  4. Build a fake web resource. Here the scammers make a fake site where users who use the provided link will go. The creators attach particular importance to the quality of copying a fake web resource in order to minimize differences from a real-life project.
  5. Sending bait emails to a selected group of people. When the victim, without hesitation, uses the specified links and believes in the “lure” of the scammers, at some stage, logins and passwords are stolen by special programs. For example, the most basic divorce has an approximate structure:

✅  The letter congratulates on the transfer of crypto coins;

✅  The user is happy by clicking on the link;

✅  The amount of 10 BTC flashes on the screen, music plays and a message pops up like “Cryptotrader XXXX has transferred coins to you, go to the wallet to transfer the amount …”;

✅  Having been delighted with a solid freebie, a person quickly begins to enter a password, login and keys, not realizing the meaning of the actions being performed;

✅  After the opening of the digital storage, the site with congratulations suddenly closes, allegedly due to a network failure;

✅  The upset user decides to repeat everything later and leaves.

What happened here? It’s simple – at the final stage, when the crypto wallet was opened, the spyware recorded the required data and disabled the site. Further, the frustration of the coin holder from the lost Internet connection is replaced by hysteria, the intensity and depth of which is determined by the number of coins in the crypto storage.

6. The fraudster, having received the secret data, calmly empties the victim’s virtual wallet.

Here is such an updated scheme for the theft of cryptographic money. The schematic of fraud has been analyzed, since there are now many variations of such methods of stealing digital coins. It is important that the fundamental stages are identical everywhere in phishing cryptocurrencies.

Note! Special mention should be made of the professional sophistication of some modern phishing schemes. At the stage of entering a password, login and keys, the user does not use a spyware that steals data, but uses special software. He subtly replaces the public address of the victim’s cryptocurrency with the address of the fraudster’s wallet, which is subsequently manifested by the redirection of the incoming poor user crypto-coins to the account of the criminal’s vault!

Variants of decoys sent by scammers

Practical evidence points to excessive variability in honeypot emails. Everything is determined by the scammers’ focus on a specific user group. The most common bait messages are:

  • Letters sent by technical support of some resource related to cryptocurrencies. This scheme is incredibly common, as it is characterized by sufficient efficiency. Here the criminals are disguised by the technical support specialists of the service (company), where the victim uses certain services or works with digital coins. The letter usually contains an urgent request to urgently follow the link and carry out an additional reconfiguration of the crypto wallet, make changes to the profile on the cryptocurrency exchange, etc. The reason is the supposedly urgent need to correct the protection parameters.
  • Messages about “fallen down” happiness. Often inexperienced users or beginners fall for these congratulations. The letter notifies the victim of his fantastic luck, which finally turned into a big win of 150 Ethereum or 1100 Monero. Sometimes, you receive a notification about solid bonuses, automatic selection of the winner by the system or a unique draw with no losers. Any bait, in general, a typical activation of the feeling of instant profit and greed. Everything is cool, money is waiting, but now you need to pay a tiny transaction fee and paste the account number copied from the crypto wallet into a special window. Again, the victim turns out to be tempted by a fabulous gift of fate and meekly types passwords, codes and keys that the spyware intercepts.
  • A message from airdrop. Now the cryptocurrency airdrop procedure is quite common on the cryptocurrency market. Here, holders of certain coins are given out some new altcoins for free to popularize and advertise the launched blockchain project. Indeed, such events do happen and they are especially popular, since the payments of new crypto coins are real. Fraudsters try to use this factor exclusively. They compose letters about the alleged airdrop and send them to selected users, informing them about the possibility of obtaining new altcoins. You just need to enter your own cryptocurrency wallet through the link and get coins. Of course, there is no gift money, and the codes, keys and logins go to scammers.

How to avoid getting caught by cryptocurrency phishing

Due to the tireless improvement of criminal schemes and optimization of digital coin theft techniques, phishing continues to exist as a method of stealing funds. There are such competent, perfectly executed scenarios and deception models that experienced investors even manage to lose their cryptocurrency. However, there are a number of 99.99% effective recommendations, the adequate implementation of which will prevent financial loss.

Tips on how to avoid getting caught by cryptocurrency phishing:

✅  Do not open e-mails, as well as various forms of messages sent from previously unknown, suspicious, unusual addresses.

✅  You cannot activate links in messages that were not expected.

✅  Use (if possible) a separate computer or device on which powerful anti-virus protection is active to enter the crypto wallet or the account of the bitcoin exchange.

✅  Show prudence and instantly delete any emails about winnings, sudden deposits, prize transactions, etc. There are no freebies, luck and accidents, especially in areas related to money.

✅  Use mail on Gmail. The service filters out 99.9% of fraudulent emails to the Spam folder.

Conclusion

Only a complex of caution, attentiveness and awareness of real risks will allow avoiding the loss of coins due to the successful implementation of phishing schemes on cryptocurrencies by fraudsters. It is necessary to competently take into account the modern demand, the popularity of digital coins and understand the obvious focus of cyber thieves on other people’s crypto accounts, exchange accounts, and virtual money storage.

Phishing precautions are basic and easy to follow. Every user who shows rationality and prudence will be able to secure their own Bitcoin or altcoins.

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