While crypto scams are nothing new to this fairly new industry, it looks like scammers continue to evolve alongside the industry itself. According to the 2020 crypto crime report from blockchain research and analysis firm Chainalysis, scams accounted for the highest-earning category of crypto crime in 2019.
As per the report, $4.3 billion was lost to crypto scams in 2019, with the majority of funds coming from Ponzi schemes. One of the biggest examples of such a Ponzi is the Plus token scam that affected millions of users and resulted in $3 billion in Ethereum and Bitcoin being netted.
One of the most common forms of crypto scams involves the scammers impersonating popular blockchain and crypto companies and duping investors of the respective communities by tricking them into fake giveaways. Lately, popular blockchain payments company Ripple and its huge community have been targetted by scammers.
Over the past months, scammers have pretended to represent Ripple on several occasions. The most recent case saw a fraudulent email being sent to XRP holders promoting a fake XRP giveaway. The email was designed to replicate the company’s regular email and is pretty accurate.
Billion-dollar XRP giveaway
The scam was first reported by a member of XRP community, who tweeted screenshots of the fake email that leads to a website that requires the user to register with their credentials to participate in a 2 billion XRP giveaway. Ripple took to twitter and warned the community by highlighting the said tweet.
Furthermore, Ripple has also reminded the community members that they don’t host giveaways like these. This is understandable, as no established crypto company would give away their tokens for free. These tactics are mostly used by new companies that want to market themselves.
Hence, it is advised that users should always check the official websites and the social channels of the companies before depositing their money in events like this. It is important to note that cryptocurrency that is once sent to a scam address will never be recovered unless the scammers themselves grow a conscience and decide to send it back (which is not likely).
Ripple CEO impersonated by scammers
This year also saw scammers impersonate Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, to promote a fake airdrop scam on YouTube. The scam account had 277,000 subscribers and a single video of a real interview of Garlinghouse. The Video description promoted a fake 50 million airdrop of XRP tokens.
Upon discovering the scam, Garlinghouse went ahead to sue YouTube especially because events like this harm not only the victims, but also damage the reputation of the company, and in this case Garlinghouse himself.
Ripple also asked YouTube to take down 25 accounts that were promoting this scam. According to the lawsuit, scammers duped investors off “millions of XRP valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Garlinghouse isn’t the only one whose identity has been misused; the crypto community has seen scammers go to several lengths to convince victims. On one occasion, scammers bought a verified twitter account and pretended to be billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, promoting a fake 10,000 BTC giveaway.
Greed along with lack of awareness and regulations are the key reasons why the crypto industry continues to be plagued by scammers. If one is careful enough, it is not so difficult to spot fakes like the ones mentioned above. Since the industry is relatively new and unknown to many, crypto education is of the utmost importance in order to make it a safer place for everyone.