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Scammers, looters and thieves in crypto world

YEM coin, Bank Bene Merenti, Scam, Solidus Labs, cryptocurrency, Crypto

Economy

Scammers, looters and thieves in crypto world

For the last several days, a team of investigative reporters of our newspaper has been investigating cases of scams and fraudulent activities of scammers, looters and thieves in the crypto world. We have been already exposing a dangerous racket named ‘Bank Bene Merenti’ and its fraudulent ‘YEM coin’.

An old crypto scheme has a new name — and it’s costing investors millions.

So-called “pig butchering” is when a scammer builds up trust with their victims before eventually pressuring them to deposit more and more of their crypto assets into bogus digital wallets or websites controlled by the scammer.

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The name refers to how scammers “feed their victims with promises of romance and riches before cutting them off and taking all their money,” according to an FBI report.

And you may have already encountered the latest iteration of this scheme.

“Pig butchering scammers usually send a message via WhatsApp, text or another app like Tinder, as if it was intended for someone else, often with an attractive person’s profile photo”, says Chen Arad, chief operating officer of Solidus Labs, a company that provides tools to help crypto exchanges and institutions prevent market manipulation.

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Instead of asking for a large sum of money up front, the scammers slowly work to convince their targets to move their cryptocurrency away from legitimate exchanges and onto fraudulent websites controlled by the scammer that look like authentic trading platforms.

The scheme is particularly effective because it involves a scammer building up their target’s trust over time, Coinbase reports.

After building that trust, the fraudsters pressure their targets to pour more and more of their money into the bogus investment platforms.

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The scammers also find ways to appeal to their target’s emotions, such as asking questions like, “Don’t you want to have enough money for your kids?” Jan Santiago, deputy director of Global Anti-Scam Org, tells CNBC Make It.

Some scammers even give their targets a small amount of money they claim to be “returns” in order to convince them to invest even larger sums of money, Coinbase finds.

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However, when a victim attempts to withdraw their funds, they are told they must pay a fee before their money can be released. Often, the scammers simply disappear with the stolen funds, which are nearly impossible to get returned.

“Crypto and blockchain does allow very advanced ways of tracing stolen funds through risk monitoring firms like ours, but once the funds are lost, there’s no guarantee they will be recovered”, says Arad.

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Unfortunately, “pig butchering” is becoming increasingly popular. In 2021,

US$429 million was lost to these types of scams, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

While we are three months into 2022, according to media reports billions of dollars in cryptocurrency have already been pillaged and plundered.

Last year was a huge for the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency. Popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin had a banner year that kicked off following the memestock craze that took place in January. These cryptocurrencies soared to new heights, attracting attention from people who may not have been familiar with the industry previously.

But crypto is unpredictable. It’s still an incredibly volatile market, almost completely devoid of regulations that protect those who, say, invest in the stock market. With so many crypto newbies jumping into this lawless wild west over the past year, scammers have salivated at all the newfound opportunities to cash in at their expense.

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Contents published under this byline are those created by the news team of BLiTZ

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