Scams have always been a part of life. However, the online world has given rise to an increasing number of scams which are becoming hard to identify, making it easy to fall victim to them. Module 8 of C1b3rWall Academy 2021/2022, “Online scams. Means of payment” presents several cases, including cryptocurrency scams by Alberto Muñoz, Professor at the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and Vice-Dean of Students at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (National University for Remote Education).
The aim of his lecture is to teach students how to detect a cryptocurrency scam and not to fall for it. Alberto explains that, in 2019 most of the cryptocurrency movements made by illicit entities were related to scams. This represents 2% (about 20 billion) of the total cryptocurrency movement that year. The first thing to clarify is that cryptocurrencies are not a scam, but there are scammers who take advantage of the term.
Types of cryptocurrency scams
All crypto-related scams tend to share some characteristics:
- They promise consistent and secure turnover.
- They have a very aggressive referral/affiliate system.
- They use vague language but full of sophisticated terms.
- The project’s whitepaper contains vague, confusing or copy-pasted information. Team members do not exist (image banks).
- The cryptocurrency is only traded on a poorly known exchange.
Some real cases
Internationally, some of the most famous cryptocurrency scams have been Plus Token, Bitconnect, BitClub or OneCoin. In Spain, Arbistar, Kuailian and Mind Capital were the most known.
What to do if you have been scammed?
Alberto also explains what to do if you find yourself in this situation. If you nevertheless fall into the nets of cybercriminals, what should you do?
- Collect all possible evidence (transaction logs, emails, whatsapps, websites, etc.)
- File a complaint to the National Police (Technological Investigation Brigade of the Technological Investigation Unit ITU) or the Civil Guard (Telematic Crimes Group – GDT).
- Report it to the Comisión Nacional de Mercado de Valores (whistleblowing channel): 900 373 362 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inform your bank and Exchange of what happened.