“I am excited reading news about cryptocurrencies. I would like to invest there in a small way. Advise me how to go about it,” a senior corporate executive posted on his LinkedIn wall, triggering a volley of suggestions from his followers.
With cryptos gaining currency, there has been a huge interest among a section of the middleclass that is frantically searching Google or checking with the IT crowds to understand this new investment tool to make a small investment to test the waters.
Cybercriminals are quick enough to cash in on the frenzy. In Hyderabad, a corporate executive was duped into opening a crypto account in a fake crypto firm. By showing an inflated increase in his investments, they went on to lure him to invest over ₹60 lakh. By the time he found that he was duped, it was too late. He ended up filing a case with the police.
Cyber security experts have cautioned the public not to fall prey to such fake invitations or fall for a plethora of advertisements, including some with fake endorsements by celebrities.
Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerability Research, Check Point Software Technologies, asked the prospective investors to be cautious and to double-check the URLs before clicking on them. “You should never give your pass-phrase to others,” he said.
“You should skip the ads. If you are looking for wallets or crypto trading and swapping platforms in the crypto space, always look at the first website in your search and not in the ad, as these may mislead you ,” he said.
Check Point Research has warned that scammers are using Google Ads to steal crypto wallets. Scammers are placing ads at the top of Google Search that imitate popular wallet brands, such as Phantom and MetaMask, to trick users into giving up their wallet passphrase and private key.
It estimated that over $500,000 worth of crypto was stolen in a matter of days recently.
Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of Quick Heal Technologies, said that the bull run on cryptocurrency and the windfall gains to those who had invested early in cryptocurrencies have attracted the interest of many.
“Taking advantage of this situation, scamsters are targeting new victims by coming out with attractive fake offers on social media,” he said.
The fraudsters are using photos and videos of celebrities to make the prospective users believe that the celebrities are endorsing the scheme.
“There had also been incidents where social medial handles of some celebrities got hijacked and using them to promote fake cryptocurrency schemes,” he said. One needs to be very careful while clicking on social media advertisements. “Look closely at the name of the website, or YouTube channel or Twitter account. The fake accounts will have small differences as a mis-spelling or use of fonts that make the fake account look a genuine one,” he said.