In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency, where digital assets are exchanged, and fortunes can be made, a lurking danger threatens the safety of both seasoned investors and newcomers alike: crypto phishing scams.
These schemes are designed to exploit the trust and vulnerability of individuals, aiming to trick them into revealing their sensitive information or even parting with their hard-earned crypto holdings.
As the popularity of cryptocurrencies continues to rise, so does the sophistication of phishing techniques employed by cybercriminals. From impersonating legitimate exchanges and wallets to crafting compelling social engineering tactics, these scammers stop at nothing to gain unauthorized access to your digital assets.
Malicious actors use different methods of social engineering to target their victims. With social engineering tactics, scammers manipulate users’ emotions and create a sense of trust and urgency.
Eric Parker, CEO and co-founder of Giddy — a noncustodial wallet smart wallet — told Cointelegraph, “Did someone reach out to you without you asking? That’s one of the biggest rules of thumb you can use. Customer service rarely, if ever, proactively reaches out to you, so you should always be suspicious of messages saying you need to take action on your account.”
“Same idea with free money: If someone is messaging you because they want to give you free money, it’s likely, not real. Be wary of any message that feels too good to be true or gives you an immediate sense of urgency or fear to make you act quickly.”
Email and messaging scams
One common technique used in crypto phishing scams is impersonating trusted entities, such as cryptocurrency exchanges or wallet providers. The scammers send out emails or messages that appear to be from these legitimate organizations, using similar branding, logos and email addresses. They aim to deceive recipients into believing that the communication is from a trustworthy source.
To achieve this, the scammers may use techniques like email spoofing, where they forge the sender’s email address to make it appear as if it’s coming from a legitimate organization. They may also use social engineering tactics to personalize the messages and make them seem more authentic. By impersonating trusted entities, scammers exploit the trust and credibility associated with these organizations to trick users into taking actions that compromise their security.
Fake support requests
Crypto phishing scammers often pose as customer support representatives of legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges or wallet providers. They send emails or messages to unsuspecting users, claiming an issue with their account or a pending transaction that requires immediate attention.
The scammers provide a contact method or a link to a fake support website where users are prompted to enter their login credentials or other sensitive information.
Omri Lahav, CEO and co-founder of Blockfence — a crypto-security browser extension — told Cointelegraph, “It’s important to remember that if someone sends you a message or email unsolicited, they likely want something from you. These links and attachments can contain malware designed to steal your keys or gain access to your systems,” continuing:
“Furthermore, they can redirect you to phishing websites. Always verify the sender’s identity and the email’s legitimacy to ensure safety. Avoid clicking on links directly; copy and paste the URL into your browser, checking carefully for any spelling discrepancies in the domain name.”
By impersonating support personnel, scammers exploit users’ trust in legitimate customer support channels. In addition, they prey on the desire to resolve issues quickly, leading users to willingly disclose their private information, which scammers can use for malicious purposes later.
Fake websites and cloned platforms
Malicious actors can also build fake websites and platforms to lure in unsuspecting users.
Domain name spoofing is a technique where scammers register domain names that closely resemble the names of legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges or wallet providers. For example, they might register a domain like “exchnage.com” instead of “exchange.com” or “myethwallet” instead of “myetherwallet.” Unfortunately, these slight variations can be easily overlooked by unsuspecting users.
Lahav said that users should “verify whether the website in question is reputable and well-known.”
“Checking the correct spelling of the URL is also crucial, as malicious actors often create URLs that closely resemble those of legitimate sites. Users should also be cautious with websites they discover through Google ads, as they may not organically rank high in search results,” he said.
Scammers use these spoofed domain names to create websites that imitate legitimate platforms. They often send phishing emails or messages containing links to these fake websites, tricking users into believing they are accessing the genuine platform. Once users enter their login credentials or perform transactions on these websites, the scammers capture the sensitive information and exploit it for their gain.
Malicious software and mobile apps
Hackers can also resort to using malicious software to target users. Keyloggers and clipboard hijacking are techniques crypto phishing scammers use to steal sensitive information from users’ devices.
Keyloggers are malicious software programs that record every keystroke a user makes on…
Read More: How users can stay protected