If there is money to have, scammers will try to take it from you. Encryption is no exception. In fact, cryptography is a primary target for fraudsters who take advantage of nascent technology and the public’s lack of familiarity with blockchain tools to position themselves as experts or leaders in the space and gain trust.
Although cryptocurrencies suffered a dramatic recession in 2022, crypto scams were on the rise.
According to data from CertiK’s “Web3 Security Report” 2022, last year “was the worst year ever recorded in terms of lost value from Web3 protocols. Cryptocurrency losses due to hacks, exploits and scams in 2022 reached an all-time high of $3.7 billion, a 189% increase over the previous 2021 record of $1.3 billion.
In this article we have collected the most common scams to explain what they are and how to identify them so that you can protect your wealth.
Bitcoin scams are almost as old as bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency and the one with the highest market capitalization. Of all cryptocurrencies it is the one with the most name recognition and the widest adoption – even traditional financial companies like Fidelity have bitcoin as part of their offerings! For this reason, bitcoin feels “safe” for many new investors and is often the entry point to cryptocurrencies.
One of the most common scams to target your bitcoin is a phishing scam. The hacker often impersonates a legitimate-sounding service, company, or individual in an email or text message and tries to trick victims into revealing their private keys or tricking them into sending their bitcoin to the scammer’s wallet.
Avoid being tricked by checking the email address of any sender and making sure that the sites they are linking to are legitimate. Often, phishing email addresses either slightly direct a real site — that is, Gogle.com instead of Google.com — or will send you to a site that contains similar errors, such as coinbase.co instead of coinbase.com. A good habit to avoid going to malicious websites is to bookmark any legitimate sites you use for cryptocurrencies and use only those bookmarks to visit those sites.
Many people new to cryptocurrencies are finding their way into space through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), either through collectible sites like NBA Top Shot, by purchasing a colorful avatar for social media, or through an NFT that also serves as a ticket to an event. Sometimes called “digital collectible” by big brands including Starbucks and Instagram, there are many scammers targeting both newbies and old professionals in the space.
The NFT OpenSea marketplace verifies that a work of art or collection is genuine with a blue check mark on the listing page. You can also check past ownership and sales of an NFT. That’s the beauty of blockchain – if an NFT seems to have appeared out of nowhere long after the original mint, it’s highly suspicious because all past transactions are recorded. When in doubt, you can search for the original artist’s Twitter account and send a message asking if it’s legitimate.
3. Social Media Scams
Many crypto scams originate on social media, especially on Twitter and Instagram. According to a June 2022 report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, “Nearly half of people who reported losing cryptocurrencies due to a scam from 2021 said it started with an announcement, post, or message on a social media platform.”
From giveaway scams to fraudulent “verified” or blue-checked accounts, social media is rife with fraud. Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter you can no longer simply glance at a blue check after a name and make sure it’s a verified account because any Twitter Blue subscriber can pay that sign for as little as $8. Before you trust any advice or ideas from what appears to be a verified account, look at their other posts, how long they’ve been active, and how many followers they have. A brand new account with few followers that appears to be just shilling crypto projects is unlikely to be trustworthy.
A unique social media scam comes from YouTube, where people set up fake livestreams to get viewers out of their cryptocurrencies. The scammer creates a legitimate-looking YouTube livestream, often using stolen content to increase their authority and posts links to freebies or other seemingly tempting content. These links can be malicious phishing attempts or simply direct you to send your cryptocurrency to the “expert” to invest. Check your channel’s history, including when it started and other videos they’ve posted, to avoid being fooled. New channel without video? Stay away.
Many critics call cryptography itself a “Ponzi scheme.” For example, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon called crypto tokens “decentralized Ponzi schemes” in 2022. The definition of a true Ponzi scheme, however, is a financial fraud that promises outstanding returns and does so by not actually investing the money it receives, but instead distributing payments to early investors with funds from newer investors.
Cryptography is a huge target for Ponzi schemes, which often rely on the “expert” having a superior understanding of a complex and new technology. Experts promise to do the hard work with your money and remove the headache of having to learn how something like decentralized finance (DeFi) works. One of the biggest warning signs of a Ponzi scheme is the “guaranteed” returns of double-digit percentages, a promise that no legitimate investment can keep. All investments involve an element of risk, and cryptocurrencies are more volatile than traditional financial instruments. If someone promises you huge guaranteed returns, the only thing you can guarantee is that it’s a scam.
Carpet shooters are a type of exit scam that DeFi and NFT are particularly susceptible to. Combine the fact that DeFi removes intermediaries involved in financial transactions with the relative ease of creating a new token and you’ve built a mature environment for fraudsters to exploit. Scammers can easily create a cryptographic token and have it listed on a decentralized exchange (DEX) without going through any kind of code check or another type of background check. From January to December 2022, over 117,000 scam tokens were created, stealing billions of dollars from unsuspecting investors.
Newly quoted currencies often rise in price, and eager investors can use filters such as “recently added” or “top gainers” to filter out new hot coins without researching projects. Once the founders of the fraudulent crypto project feel that the price has peaked, they will make it out with investors’ money, leaving the holders with a worthless coin.
The best way to prevent this is to do your research. Follow the steps to thoroughly evaluate any new cryptocurrency or NFT project, especially by reading the white paper and researching who the founders are. No previous white papers or records? Huge warning sign.
6. Cryptographic romance scams
that didn’t start with cryptocurrencies but is published as the space has grown is a long-running scam known as a romantic scam, which grossed $185 million from victims, the FTC said in June 2022. The scammer sets up fake profiles on dating sites and/or social media sites to attract targets. They may “accidentally” send you DM on WhatsApp or other messaging platforms as well and then engage in conversation. Once the brand has known the victim, the scammer will turn the conversation into bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and convince the person to invest some money in the token.
Often the sophisticated scammer will create fake – but convincing-looking – websites as part of a pig slaughter scam, fattening the “pig” with small deposits and pretending that the victim is getting huge returns until the person is convinced and makes a large deposit. At that point, the scammer cuts ties and leaves with the money after weeks or even months of stretching the target.
You should be suspicious of any request from someone you haven’t met in real life, but a big and common warning sign that your cybernetic heart isn’t there for love is that they refuse to meet face-to-face or via Zoom or another video conferencing app.
Can I retrieve Shiba Inu cryptocurrency from a fake investment site?
Unfortunately the short answer is no, you cannot retrieve Shiba Inu cryptocurrency from a fake investment site.
The team behind the Shiba Inu (SHIB) meme cryptocurrency has issued a public warning against ongoing online scams that primarily target altcoin investors interested in SHIB tokens.
The proactive scam warning came in the form of a tweet detailing the various methods used to deceive unsuspecting victims of the Shiba Inu community.
The warning also stated: “A fake Shiba Telegram group is being shared all over social media. Scammers impersonate official accounts and create fake users. These scammers respond to general posts.”
While Shiba Inu attracts aspiring cryptomillionaires and billionaires, bad actors have stepped up efforts, targeting unwary investors on social media platforms including Twitter and Telegram. Some of the common methods used to contact potential victims are impersonating official accounts and targeting hashtags such as #shib #shibarmy #leash #shibaswap and #bone.
In addition, Shiba Inu’s scam warning highlighted that the community does not offer any kind of promotion including airdrops, bonuses, giveaways, or gifts. As a general rule, investors are expected to refrain from sharing wallet keys, credentials, or joining and following fake social media accounts.
Taking inspiration from the success of Shiba Inu, numerous dog-themed tokens have begun flooding the cryptocurrency market. More recently, SHIB hit an all-time high of $0.0086 on October 28, but struggled to hold its value.
The Shiba Inu development team has also developed and released another token called Doge Killer (LEASH), which has also seen gains of 130.3% recently.
In addition to mainstream adoption of the token, a growing community of investors has placed SHIB on some of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance.US and Crypto.com.
The spin-off is attributed to a prolonged bullish period that returned high profits for low-time investments. As Cointelegraph reported, an $8,000 investment made by a 35-year-old supermarket warehouse manager in early 2021 is now worth over $1 million.