Scam scam scam scam
with apologies to Monty Python.
Almost a year ago (June 2017) we started seeing a plague of scams on Slack. Starting simple, they soon evolved into a variety of plays preying on greed on one hand and fear on the other.
Late last year Slack decided that they had enough. They didn’t feel it was valuable to nurture this space so they stopped open community groups from accepting new members. The communities moved to other platforms like telegram, discord, rocket chat etc. and the epidemic seems for now to have abated.
Hello little bird
Besides slack, the other natural habitat for crypto people is Twitter. Twitter has the great ability to expose you to new unexpected things in a way that other platforms don’t. There are serious concerns that the platform can be abused but you do get to hear a lot of new stuff.
Twitter provides an API (a means of writing programs to interact with it) which means that you can write programs to post on twitter. One friend I know uses it to post a kind of automated nonsensical haiku at intervals. Unfortunately this opens things up for abuse too.
There have always been fake accounts, some for parody, some automated by bots — and twitter tried, with its verified program (the little blue tick) and its reporting mechanisms, to deal with those that abused the system while allowing those that it felt contributed to free speech.
The first scams we saw were fake airdrops. A link promising free tokens in return for signing up. These scams usually ended up asking people for their private keys in order to receive tokens.
YOU SHOULD NEVER REVEAL YOUR PRIVATE KEYS
Sharing your private key is like sharing your banking password. You give somebody else FULL CONTROL of that account’s funds.
Taylor Monahan, formerly of MyEtherWallet and now of MyCrypto recently said that she regretted ever having had the option to use private keys with MyEtherWallet because it made people too comfortable with giving away their keys.
A couple of months ago we started to see the beginning of what is now an epidemic of twitter scams using impersonated people in the Cryptocurrency World. They all follow the same basic formula — an offer of free ether. Interestingly they started off more sophisticated but then became automated and more obvious.
The scary thing about this image is that I did not take it from a library of save screenshots (I have hundreds on my phone) I simply opened to twitter, scrolled down until a saw a crypto tweet with a few replies and opened it. The correct account should be “zcashco” but the tweet is from “zacashco”
The scam is obvious enough to most people — but that is not who they are targetting. Like Nigerian 419 scams, the offer is simple to see through to anybody who is thinking straight — but you are not their target. Newcomers who are probably desperate to increase their income — who have maybe done a few airdrops and got free tokens, these are the targets.
Following through, you find a new account (usually) which has rarely tweeted. They used to have a few retweets from the original account holder and a load of fake endorsements — but recently even that is not considered necessary. A few times we even saw them being sent from hijacked verified accounts.
The warning signs are (in addition to the obvious scam) the new account and the limited number of followers (more visible on mobile) and the limited number of tweets.
Enter Charlie Lee
Charlie Lee just tweeted this :
A number of us were naturally upset — really sent by the real guy.
The thing is, when you click on the link you get the message at the top — a worthwhile message. The downside is that if you don’t click on the link, you get a feeling that real people are really giving away coins.
For me the big thing is — how many people do NOT read the article before commenting on the headlines? Could somebody else then try to hijack it with a fake account actually making the offer?
Given that this is how retweets look, it would be SOOO simple to use a FAKE account to retweet it with details on “how to take part” then the clever education plot fails dramatically….
My feeling is that given the current climate NOBODY should offer free stuff on crypto-twitter.
That being said, the best way to sign off is by repeating Charlie Lee’s words