It has been predicted that cryptocurrency scams are set to explode after researchers reported a triple-digit increase in registered domains in the first half of 2022, compared to the whole of last year.
Cyber security service provider, Group-IB said that they had detected over 2000 domains registered to be used as fake promotion websites in the first half of this year, revealing a 335% increase on the number recorded in 2021. Hence showing a five-fold increase compared to the second half of 2021 and a 53-fold rise in comparison with H1 2021.
However, the vendor claimed that most of the fake sites target English and Spanish language speakers, 63% were registered with Russian registrars.
It has been reported that victims are lured to these sites via fraudulent YouTube streams featuring popular figures like Elon Musk, Brad Garlinghouse, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and even El Salvador president, Nayib Bukele.
An observation reveals that they all have a connection to crypto. Ronaldo recently signed a partnership with Binance, while El Salvador became the first country to adopt bitcoin as its national currency.
“The scammers used the footage of famous entrepreneurs and crypto enthusiasts to encourage users to visit a promotional website to double their crypto investment — by transferring crypto to the specified address or disclosing the seed phrase of their crypto wallet to receive even better terms,” Group-IB said.
It appears that the YouTube accounts used in the scams are either hijacked using dedicated stealer tools or bought/rented on underground forums in return for a percentage of the stolen funds.
“Scams targeting crypto-enthusiasts are becoming increasingly common, and their scope and sophistication are growing,” said Group-IB.
“Crypto-giveaway scams have evolved into a profitable illicit market segment. Small-time scammers and more advanced cyber-criminals band together, allowing them to automate and streamline operations.”
The same security vendor revealed, back in April this year that one group of fraudsters managed to make nearly $1.7m in just three days after luring victims to visit fake sites via 36 YouTube streams.