Watch out for the new floating crypto scam

Along with all the issues that regularly crop up in the cryptocurrency space, there are also plenty of scammers out there who are willing to fleece people of the coins they have, no matter how low their value.

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The range of hacks, exploits and scams is endless. Also, no matter how much someone like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) says in an interview with Bloomberg Technology that “the interesting nature of blockchain technology is that it’s one hundred percent transparent, so if you want to know who who bought or sold something using cryptocurrency, you can do that quite easily,” you can’t. Having an online address is not the same as having a person’s identity.

It is up to the consumer, i.e. you, to be careful and know when something may smell fishy and should be wrapped in old newspapers and thrown in the bin.

But as happens with technology, its fraudulent use also continues to grow, as evidenced by a confiscation case filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Defendant: “About 40.997711 Ether
ETH
about the digital currency.

As the complaint states: “PM is a resident of and does business in Orange County, California, in the Central District of California. PM controls an investment vehicle that invests in digital currencies, including Ethereum.

So there is an Ethereum cryptocurrency owner, whose identity is protected, who maintained a cryptocurrency wallet with Coinbase.

“On or about December 21, 2021, the victim, PM, received a pop-up message identifying an error while attempting to log into the victim’s Coinbase account on his laptop,” the complaint continues. “The pop-up message read: ‘Due to recent activity, your account has been locked. Please contact our support team at +1-810-420-8046 to remove account restrictions.’ PM called the identified phone number and was connected to a person claiming to be a Coinbase representative. The PM interviewer identified himself as Ankit Anwaral (“Ankit”). Ankit knew PM’s login information and PM’s current location. Ankit told PM that in order to authenticate his information, PM needed to transfer his cryptocurrency balance from his Coinbase account to a Coinbase Pro account, which was a more sophisticated account designed for investment professionals. Ankit instructed PM to download a remote desktop application called ” Anydesk” to his laptop to allow Ankit to remotely control PM’s computer. As PM did so, strangers began transferring PM’s money. Soon after, PM noticed that 40.997711 Ethereum, worth $165,145.40 at the time , had been transferred from the victim’s account. Due to Ankit’s misrepresentations, the Prime Minister did not realize that he had been defrauded until the entire contents including possibly transferred from the victim’s account.

The cryptocurrency then went through “many transfers before being reassembled in other wallets to hide the corrupt source.” (Again, when someone says that all blockchain activity is “transparent” and people’s identities are easily discoverable, you can dismiss the individual as someone who knows much less than he doesn’t think.)

“What struck me about this was that I was impressed that the DOJ would bring such a civil action,” said Tal J. Lifshitz, a partner in the Complex Litigation Department at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton. and co-chairman of the company’s Cryptocurrency, Digital Assets and Blockchain Group. He adds that “999 times out of a thousand” the Department of Justice’s response to someone making a complaint will be: “We understand that you, Mr. Victim, have been the victim of fraud, but this is your fault”.

But there is a federal lawsuit instead, probably because the person who was defrauded is well connected.

Generally, people are fooled by scams that exploit fear or greed. There is usually a red flag. Providing a phone number to call is one of them. You always call the main company number and ask to be transferred to the person or something like a fraud department.

But in this case, the scammer had important information about the victim. Was it malware that was on the person’s computer and provided compelling data? Some kind of penetration of Coinbase systems? Maybe it was a different type of mechanism.

Either way, reputable companies don’t want anyone online to give you a phone number to call because it sounds too much like a scam.

Know that when there’s a lot of money changing hands, there are people who won’t blink twice before trying to trick you into doing something stupid. Take the time to do the basics, like call the company through an independent number, ask questions. Anyone who tries to push you beyond the speed of intelligent consideration is someone you cannot trust.

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