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:

  1. They promise consistent and secure turnover.
  2. They have a very aggressive referral/affiliate system.
  3. They use vague language but full of sophisticated terms.
  4. The project’s whitepaper contains vague, confusing or copy-pasted information. Team members do not exist (image banks).
  5. 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?

  1. Collect all possible evidence (transaction logs, emails, whatsapps, websites, etc.)
  2. File a complaint to the National Police (Technological Investigation Brigade of the Technological Investigation Unit ITU) or the Civil Guard (Telematic Crimes Group – GDT).
  3. Report it to the Comisión Nacional de Mercado de Valores (whistleblowing channel): 900 373 362 /
  4. Inform your bank and Exchange of what happened.

You can learn more about this in an article on News365. I also invite you to watch the complete presentation here.

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.

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