In recent years, interest in digital currencies, popularly known as cryptocurrencies, digital assets that use cryptographic methods to secure transactions in the digital market, has grown.
Cryptocurrencies form a decentralized system in which, through the block chain -also called ‘blockchain’ technology-, each of the agents that participate in these transactions guarantee their security. With this, the figure of the intermediary is eliminated, contrary to what happens in the traditional market.
It is a model that has generated interest, because many users consider that investing in cryptocurrencies is the future. These have at their disposal several types of these digital currencies to look at.
Currently, the most popular are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero and Dogecoin. Because they present rising values and promise great profits for investors, as long as their prices do not collapse, cybercriminals seek to take advantage of their shortcomings to profit, as ESET has warned.
Among some of the most common threats are the so-called ‘Ponzi Scams’. This is a type of scam where victims are encouraged to invest in a non-existent company or scheme to get their money back quickly.
This fraudulent operation involves the payment of interest to investors on their own money already invested or on the money of new investors who fall for the deception.
On the other hand, the so-called ‘Pump and Dump’ stands out. In this case, scammers encourage investors to buy shares of unknown cryptocurrency companies based on false information.
Once purchased, the share price rises and fraudsters sell their own shares. In this way, they benefit from that action and leave the victim with worthless actions.
The impersonation of celebrity identities through the creation of false accounts, from which their followers are encouraged to invest in non-existent investment plans, is also quite common.
This method is joined by fake exchanges via emails or social media posts. In them, people are encouraged to invest a certain amount to access an even larger amount as a reward.
Also in this section we can mention ‘phishing’, one of the most used forms, through which e-mails are sent from supposed banks or bank card providers. In these emails, the payment of an amount in cryptocurrencies is requested and, sometimes, they proceed to threaten a time limit.
Imposter apps, listed in app stores as legitimate services, are another format used by criminals to trick cryptocurrency users.
Although apparently verified, through them scammers can access investors’ personal and financial data or implant ‘malware’ on the device on which they are downloaded, as well as trick users into paying for services. nonexistent.
Rise of scams
Scams in the cryptocurrency universe have been increasing as this means of payment has become widespread on the Internet. So much so that, according to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), between October 2020 and May 2021, losses in the United States were quantified at 80 million dollars (around 71 million euros). ).
From ESET they point out that this figure even increases in the United Kingdom, where the authorities have notified that the victims of these attacks were scammed with more than 146 million pounds (172 million euros) in the first nine months of 2021.
One of the main causes of the increase in these scams is the lack of regulation of these digital currencies. In addition, they generate great interest in the media, a situation that leads to ‘phishing’ actions by cybercriminals.
In addition, social networks contribute to amplifying rumors about them, whether real or fictitious, which ends up generating hoaxes around their validity.
Finally, coin mining, the process of using computing power to process transactions and earn rewards, is also a huge draw for cybercriminals.
How to avoid scams
To avoid falling into cryptocurrency fraud, the computer security company ESET advises never to give confidential information to an entity that contacts you without previously requesting it.
This can be done through email, a means through which cybercriminals pose as acquaintances or relatives of the victim so that they reveal their data. This communication can also be done through a text message or social networks.
It is also important to objectively assess the investments offered. It is advisable to distrust the supposed great opportunities or bargains and those that require an advance payment should be ruled out.
Likewise, two-factor authentication should be kept active for any cryptocurrency account and unofficial app stores should never be used to manipulate these digital currencies.
Lastly, this security solutions company recommends downloading ‘antimalware’ from a trusted provider on devices used daily, both PCs and ‘smartphones’.