Russian cryptocurrency scammers have developed a new scheme to trick citizens out of their money. They offer cryptocurrencies as gift options for holidays or birthdays. However, those who get involved in this "original" idea do not receive anything in return.
As cybersecurity firm RTM Group reported via local news agency Izvestiya, scammers create phishing emails and fake websites to trick victims into buying cryptocurrencies to make a gift for someone. Another offer is to double the amount of cryptocurrency sent to a specific wallet. In the latter case, the scammers often impersonate celebrities on Facebook or Twitter.
Naturally, once the money is sent to such a wallet, the scammers are gone forever and a trusting victim can do nothing but punch the air in anger. The number of victims and the amount of loss are currently under investigation.
Russians are falling victim to scammers even though awareness of cryptocurrencies has increased significantly over the past 5 years. As reported by NAFI Research Center, 67% of Russians are currently aware of cryptocurrencies compared to 2017, which probably means that fraudsters are also aware of their opportunities.
In fact, various fraudulent schemes in Russia are connected with cryptocurrencies. As reported by the Bank of Russia, the number of financial pyramids has increased from 222 to 871 in 2021. Every second of them lured their victims with cryptocurrencies.
The growing popularity of mining cryptocurrencies has also led to an increase in related fraudulent schemes. As reported by CoinIdol, a world blockchain news outlet, scammers were creating fake ads offering cryptocurrency mining equipment for sale. They demanded an upfront payment and then disappeared with the victim's money. However, such a scam was easy to circumvent. All they had to do was refuse the upfront payment.
Another widespread scam is fake investment opportunities. Just like in the first case, the scammers create fake websites and lure victims with high returns. In early February, a Russian citizen lost 626,000 rubles ($8,000) when she tried to invest in cryptocurrencies through such a website.
It seems that the growing awareness about the potential of cryptocurrencies is not enough for citizens to stay away from scammers and their fake offers. Nevertheless, most of them can be easily avoided. All it takes is caution and research before actually spending money.