Welcome to a new article from Bit2Me Academy! This time we are going to deal with a topic that can be unmarked a bit from the usual but that we cannot ignore: Scams with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin is money. In fact it is the best kind of money, money much safer, fair and comfortable to use for the people. However, it is a relatively new type of money, and there is a lot of cheek trying to scam people out of ignorance.
This is an educational article whose main purpose is to prevent anyone who has just discovered the world of cryptocurrencies from losing their money as part of pyramid or similar scams that take advantage of the growing technologies that are the order of the day, such as digital currencies. .
Discover the most typical forms of scam in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Why are Bitcoin scams profitable?
The popularity of Bitcoin, alternative currencies, and the blockchain is increasing daily. Just look at the three terms in Google trends to see the frequency with which people consult them in the most used search engine in the world.
In general, the term "bitcoin" is the most searched for compared to others such as "cryptocurrency","altcoin"Or"blockchain". Have you noticed the same as us?
Right! The level of search for bitcoin on Google is in an amazing agreement regarding the price of the cryptocurrency itself. Whatever the term you are looking for, as long as it matches any word related to digital currencies you are suffering a excessive increase of searches regarding the last years.
Unfortunately not all people or groups have the best intentions and often take advantage of the little experience of newcomers who discover the Bitcoin ecosystem and all its advantages. In this article we are going to analyze different scams ordered by categories and we will explain how to stay away from them and prevent more than one scare.
What is the first thing I should do to avoid losing my cryptocurrencies?
Use a updated and secure operating system with antivirus that are the order of the day in terms of updates is one of the aspects that we recommend in the chapter dedicated to How to save your bitcoins safely.
It is one of the first aspects to consider. The number of users using Windows is higher than that of other operating systems such as Linux, so their chances of success are much higher and devices with Windows installed on it are the main target of these attackers.
Sometimes people usually use Linux to avoid precisely this problem, but we must not be confused ... using Linux without the proper protections in the file system is also an open door to possible theft.
It is very important to be clear that securing the work environment is very important for both prevention and detection of scams. Next we will separate the incidents that can occur in 3 large groups such as: software, web and investment.
Why in these three categories? Quite simply, not all bitcoin related scams happen from computer programs. Many of them can be closely linked to participation in investments or projects related to the cryptocurrency ecosystem without having to go through a software or website.
Bitcoin scams at the software level
The most widespread in these last two years. The systematic of the attackers is very clear: take advantage of the launch of software such as Bitcoin core or the altcoins wallets to publish a file simulating that it is the official one and thus infect as many computers as possible that were looking for an update. legitimate.
Total or partial loss of personal information and the bitcoins stored on our devices since they can do everything in their hands with the files in your wallet.
Sometimes these fraudulent programs can be a complete utility pack to obtain everything that has value from your computer and even use it as a zombie computer.
Encrypt all the wallets you have in your Bitcoin wallet. When trying to make a withdrawal, the attacker will have a much more difficult time making any bitcoin withdrawal from your wallet.
Check the downloaded versions of the wallets and their signatures. Developers usually publish all updates along with instructions to verify the signatures of the versions.
Avoid downloading suspicious content of email messages with counterfeit domains that emulate Bitcoin-related portals.
Consult portals as virustotal the integrity of the downloaded files.
Bitcoin scams at the web level
Have you ever heard the word 'phishing'?
We will try to summarize it in 2 lines. By using this technique, a web page is created practically similar to that of any exchange house or online wallet. Attackers usually publish it in links very similar to the one of the company to which it is being replicated, they attract traffic to the web and people access it thinking that they will enter their account when they are actually sending the data to the person who is robbing them.
One of the most common examples is the one that has occurred at least half a dozen times replicating the blockchain.info online browser and wallet (one of the most used Bitcoin wallets). Taking an example and with a domain that only replaces the l with a capital I we would have the domain bIockchain.info. They then promote the link using Google ad plans, Google Adwords so that their portal appears in the first position when people search for “blockchain.info”, “blockchain”, “online bitcoin wallet” and all kinds of similar terms. As you can deduce, the number of users who fall for this type of deception is enormous.
Total or partial loss of your bitcoins when losing access to your accounts.
Exposure of personal data to the attacker. Many of the portals they could access could contain private information.
Use double factor authentication or 2FA in all your portals. In this way, whenever someone wants to access them, they will find a second password that they do not have.
Always verify that you are accessing correct web addresses and not fraudulent links in Google ads.
Check that the connection is secure (padlock icon next to the url in your browser) to prevent your data from being intercepted.
In late 2015 and even early 2016 there was a boom in websites that claimed to double the amount of bitcoins and even a long list of alternative cryptocurrencies. The systematics of the attackers was also very clear. They started the portal, they promoted it in the main cryptocurrency communities, they left the doubler operating with the money of the last ones that entered until finally in less than a week they closed the website and with it all the deposits that had been made to it .
Also, and after the modus operandis of this scam became known, some of these websites changed their logic. They go so far as to reward random users when you send small amounts but don't do anything in larger amounts. That is, you send € 0.5 and they compensate you by doubling € 1, but you send € 10 and they keep it.
People comment that they are receiving double payments, but the nature of these pyramid systems or PONZI leads them to collapse and that's when those who have developed it decide to close the web and take with them all the latest funds entered.
Total or partial loss of the funds of any person who sends money in this type of portals.
No one magically gives or doubles money. Neither mathematics nor code is misleading, so there is no system capable of doubling your income more than the funds of those who have come after you.
Stay away from any platform that promises to double your funds. Or just give you a little more. Nobody gives away money.
Many cryptocurrency-related projects make a cryptocurrency sale prior to its launch on exchanges or software launch to finance the work-related cost of running it. It is what is known as ICO (Initial Coin Offering). This is not unusual, the truth is that they can be very profitable investments, and it is full of examples of this, until you put the money in a fake ICO.
In the same way that it is known that ICOs can result in very very profitable investments, multiplying by 10 or 100 the initial investment in a short time while you collaborate in the development of innovative tools, there are those who take advantage of this reality to create a website with a Attractive background idea, convincing people to deposit their bitcoins at the scammer's Bitcoin address, which subsequently disappears.
Check that the project you are going to finance has a well-known team or company behind it, showing their face.
Reddit and cryptocurrency forums are great places to contrast community views and start analyzing.
I know that not all of us know about web development, but if the web seems to be done "in two days", suspect.
It could be added in the next point, but the main scams related to cloud mining They are based on a simple web page. The fashion trend in the middle of 2016.
As many of you may already know, Bitcoin mining is very complicated on an individual level. Many decided to start web pages that sold mining power (hashing) Guaranteed a return on investment or ROI in a short period of time.
Either people don't learn from previous experiences or they just like risk ... but if one thing is clear it is that no one can currently offer you returns on your investment in Bitcoin mining in days or weeks.
With the closure of large numbers of cloud mining pages, many users lost all the money invested in such portals. Keep in mind that to start mining in the cloud, what you do is acquire some mining power in exchange for bitcoins.
Many portals don't even post profitability data or are very confusing.
Do not trust third party services that control your mining or your assets. If you really want to start mining you will have to do an exhaustive analysis of the situation and if it really offers you the return you anticipate.
Stay away from all those who can contact you by private message commenting wonderful discounts or perfect returnsThey simply do not exist or are not as indefinite as they want you to believe.
Free cryptocurrencies, "Give Away"
They are legions of fake profiles that continuously spam social networks promoting supposed sites where they 'give away bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies'.
These profiles promote the famous 'Give-Away' (gift or gift in English), their modus operandi is as follows: they pose as relevant figures in the cryptocurrency scene and publish messages with the intention of deceiving people, inviting people to some websites where they ask you for money to receive much more.
Many people continue to fall for these deceptions, so please keep in mind that, if necessary, if someone wants to give you something voluntarily and selflessly, they do not ask you for money before: Be careful with that.
Although it is a software (that is to say it should be in the previous section of software) we believe that it is worth highlighting due to its impact and the high number of victims.
It is a Trojan-type virus. It has hundreds of versions (one of the most famous is cryptolocker) and they all do the same: they encrypt the files on your computer and ask you to pay a certain amount in bitcoins to decrypt them (regain access to them).
The most common thing is that your computer is infected when you open a file (usually a ".pdf" or ".exe") that is sent to you as an email attachment.
But, in addition to the great problem that this already poses, it has a second part: the fraud.
Many of these versions of viruses will never return access to encrypted files even if the reward is paid. What's more, even if your files are decrypted, you have to bear in mind that your computer is still infected (which is dangerous if you later store new important data, for example the private keys of the Bitcoin wallet that you can use to save the bitcoins you have received. left over after payment of the ransom)
This type of virus is devastating and has grown 5.5 times in the last year, from 131 in 000-2014 to 2015 in 718-000.
International authorities such as Europol, FBI, European Commission, National Police and a dozen other authorities and security companies have jointly developed the website No More Ransom , which helps prevent and disinfect the most typical versions of this type of virus (unfortunately still only in English and with solutions to few versions of the virus).
If you have been infected do not pay and report the case.
Bitcoin scams at investment fund level
We have reserved this point for the end since it is one of those that can transmit more security to investors but sometimes it is the opposite ... Have you ever met someone who promises crazy trading returns? Has no one suggested you participate in a fund with high weekly returns? If they haven't, it's because you're very new to Bitcoin, but it will get to you, so we want you to be prepared.
Obviously not all investment funds are part of the scam categorization. But there are many occasions in which certain private investments magically disappear, leaving thousands of people affected after a project whose standard bearer was the technology of digital currencies.
Unetenet, the precursor scam.
It is very likely that you have heard something of information about the Unetenet project. To understand it clearly, its creators sold stock or affiliate packages in exchange for EARNINGS YES OR YES when the reality is that the moment you attracted more people to Unetenet, the more possibilities you were obtaining to collect your monthly percentage.
Unfortunately, these scams often end up with the loss of a lot of money for all those who do not know where they are getting or who rely on safe profits. In this article we will not go into mentioning projects with high chances of ending up becoming a scam like Unetenet, but you just have to go around the web pages of all those services that guarantee and promise totally astronomical returns on investment and with a foundation clearly pyramidal.
Another of the most notorious cases, and well known in the Bitcoin community, was OneCoin, which involved thousands of users in a Ponzi pyramid scam on a planetary level that used Bicoin as a constant claim along with a multilevel structure to sell investment packages in its non-existent currency.
As always, our best advice is this: never trust anyone but yourself. You will avoid many of the problems that we have mentioned in this new article of our blog about bitcoin.
Common sense and analysis
In short and as a summary, do not believe who promises you astronomical returns. And when we talk about “astronomical” returns, we are not necessarily talking about cases like those mentioned above that promise to double the amount, but, for example, of cases where they offer you 0.5% daily or weekly, or where you receive a reward in other cryptocurrencies ( cryptocurrencies without any support). Be careful with all this and analyze very well, because in many cases it is a simple scam.
Bear in mind that, possibly (and more during the first phase of being involved in the scam), you will receive commissions, which will make you not suspicious because it depends on this that you spread the word and bring more people to the scam, but arrived the moment your money and the rest will disappear.
These scams take advantage not only of ignorance, but also of people's greed. Nobody can assure you fixed profits on something, because we live in a dynamic and unpredictable universe.
In investments of any kind, but especially in those related to Bitcoin, follow a golden rule: never play with the money you are going to eat, only with what you really don't mind losing, and above all, analyze very well where it is. you put. Also, do not trust that there are hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people using that wonderful system, as it is not a strong argument (for example OneCoin, thousands of people scammed).
The worst of these situations is that those who end up most affected are those who most need the money that has been stolen from them.
And remember! The problem is not Bitcoin, the main cause of all this is humans. These types of scams are present daily with Euros, Dollars or any other currency you can imagine. The purpose of this article is that you are alerted to the different types of scam that you can find and always investigate before acquiring any software, asset or participation in a project.
That is why we wanted to show you some typical cases, but they are not the only ones. However, we hope that, with the examples shared, we can have turned your eyes into agile scam detectors, and know in which direction to run once you find yourself in front of one.
As a final resource, we leave you below a website where all the scams with Bitcoin (and cryptocurrencies in general) that are detected are added. It is a list that already has hundreds of websites and it is always good to have on hand as one more resource to compare and to alert others of your discoveries: BadBitcoin