Scammers have stolen more than $1,680,000 from their victims’ cryptocurrency wallets after promising fast high returns on cryptocurrency investments in yet another fraudulent YouTube cryptocurrency giveaway.
Group-IB, a Singapore-based cybersecurity business, announced this on its website on Friday.
The cybercriminals duped the victims of the aforementioned sum between February 16 and 18, 2022, according to Group-IB, albeit the actual number of victims and total amount of stolen assets are unknown.
The scammers were reported to have staged 36 phony cryptocurrency giveaways on YouTube, using footage of Elon Musk, Vitalik Buterin, Michael Saylor, and other crypto fans from actual events to produce their own bogus broadcasts.
According to the firm, these YouTube channels appear to have been hacked or purchased from underground markets.
“On average, such feeds attracted between 3,000 and 18,000 viewers,” Group-IB revealed. One bogus webcast featuring Vitalik Buterin gathered over 165,000 people who were promised that their crypto savings will be doubled in real time.”
Gimmicks Used by Scammers
The scammers, according to Group-IB, spread links to their websites in the description pages of their YouTube feeds. These websites, according to the business, were created to show viewers “the mechanics behind a bogus giveaway.”
According to the organization, several domain names frequently displayed the same crypto wallet address, and its analysts discovered more than 30 crypto wallets used for the fraud with a total remaining value of $933,963.
According to Group-investigation IB’s of the scammers’ domain infrastructure, the 29 websites were part of a large network of 583 related resources that were all set up in the first quarter of 2022.
“Notably, there were three times as many domains registered for this scheme in less than three months of 2022 as there were in the entire year prior,” the firm stated.
Ethereum was the most popular cryptocurrency utilized by fraudsters as part of the operation, according to the business.
Furthermore, the cybersecurity firm stated that its Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-GIB) professionals first recovered links to 29 interconnected websites that contained instructions on how to double cryptocurrency deposits.
The majority of the websites were alleged to have utilised a similar eye-catching style and high-quality cryptocurrency pictures.
“When studying fraud websites offered during the false streams, CERT-GIB experts discovered an unexpected technique,” Group-IB revealed.
“Scammers requested users to their phony giveaway website to enter seed words to connect their wallets, depending on the coin and type of crypto wallets.”
“Once a victim exposes their seed word, fraudsters take control of their wallet and have the ability to withdraw all assets from it.” The actual number of victims and total amount of stolen monies are unknown, but some victims certainly could not resist taking the bait.”
As a result, the cybersecurity firm advised cryptocurrency wallet users to be extremely cautious of free freebies and to avoid sharing sensitive information on rogue websites.
Furthermore, it recommended people to double-check the legitimacy of the streams and websites they were viewing by using only legitimate sources.
“If you can’t locate any information on the promotion, you’re probably being duped.” “Seed words should be kept secret and securely stored,” it said.
“Use password management solutions to accomplish this.” Prioritize desktop solutions over cloud-based ones to reduce the danger of leakage,” Group-IB noted.
Crypto Scams on the Rise
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of crypto frauds. Illegal cryptocurrency transactions reached an all-time high last year.
According to Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics company, illicit crypto addresses got about $14 billion in 2021, up from $7.8 billion in 2020.
Scammers have used the identities and images of celebrity crypto enthusiasts to perpetuate crypto frauds on social media.
In July 2020, Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak sued YouTube for claimed inaction against bitcoin scams that used his images and videos to lure potential victims.
In September 2021, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in Canada stated that residents had lost $2 million to cryptocurrency scams in only one week.
Furthermore, corporate entities are not excluded. Virtu Financial, Inc., an electronic market maker, issued a public warning in January this year to caution against bitcoin scammers posing as its affiliates.