There was over $513 million worth of cryptocurrency theft in 2020 alone.
We’re sure that you’ve been into cryptocurrency for a while, or, you might be new to it. Either way, you need to protect your investments—and your information.
Throughout this post, we will cover various scammers’ methods to lure you into handing over your cryptocurrencies over Instagram. Here’s a list of eight common cryptocurrency scams floating around this popular social media platform.
Fake Brand Accounts
Because you see a brand post on Instagram doesn’t mean they are the official account. Scammers will often create impersonator accounts to lure eager investors into purchasing courses, signing up for airdrops, or donating. From this point, the scammer will likely steal your information and cryptocurrency while you receive nothing in return.
If possible, ensure the brand has the blue checkmark by their name. The coveted verification badge proves that Instagram vetted their profile and that they’re legitimate.
Direct Message Phishing
While browsing Instagram, you might find a direct message from a user saying that they’ve seen your photos on a porn website. Or, it could be a threatening message stating that they have dirt on you and they’ll leak it to the world. Either way, they will likely include a link to Instagram or another website.
Never click these links. They’re likely fake sites waiting for you to type your login information. If you were to input your password, the scammer or hacker would have access to your Instagram account and log in with no problem.
When someone makes wild claims over Instagram that assets like gold can back their cryptocurrency, watch out. My Big Coin stole at least $6 million from their investors.
There are new cryptocurrencies listed every day. Ensure you do your research and don’t fall into the snare of scammers trying to make a quick buck.
Bitcoin Ponzi Schemes
Ponzi Schemes involve paying back existing investors with funds taken from new investors. Scammers promise these new investors an extravagant award that involves little risk.
Though many governments don’t label cryptocurrency as legal tender, many have leaped at the opportunity to trick naive investors.
Since crypto’s a different beast than fiat currency, Ponzi Schemes will take another form. For example, you might find trading platforms offering extravagant rewards for little risk. Instagram can be an advertising platform for these Ponzi Schemes.
Here are some red flags that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says to watch out for:
- Investment doesn’t require you to have any accreditation
- Unlicensed and unregistered sellers
- If a seller offers unbelievable returns—no loss, only gains—watch out.
- Guaranteed investment returns
- Complex fee structures
Wire Fraud Scams
Usually, when scammers execute this type of scheme, they’ll build a following on Instagram then offer an exchange. Their fans’ cryptocurrency for a wire transfer of higher value from the influencer.
Here’s a great example of Instagram wire fraud scams. The personality known as Jay Mazini showcases his luxurious lifestyle while also donating cash to strangers in need. He accumulated over a million followers throughout his career.
One day, Jay told his followers to buy Bitcoin and mail it to him in exchange for a wire transfer that’s worth a little more. However, he never sent any of the wire transfers to his fans. Jay made off with over $2.5 million worth of Bitcoin from numerous followers.
Fake Exchanges and Impersonator Scams
Scammers build fake exchanges to appear legitimate, luring users into their web. Although this may not take place directly on Instagram, scammers can use the social media site to lure people to their website. As they build a user base, they’ll implement shady tactics like charging hidden fees and annoying users to invest more. Sometimes, they’ll just steal money from their users.
As with most other scams, they’ll use celebrity endorsements to promote their products. Furthermore, they’ll likely email, call, or post on forums promising extravagant returns with low risk. Sometimes, they will disguise themselves as legitimate exchanges. An example of this is BitKRX, which is named to resemble Korea’s most prominent financial trading platform Korea Exchange (KRX).
Fake exchanges pose another threat that’s worse than you losing your money—your information. With access to your information, antagonistic scammers could wreak havoc on your life.
While browsing through Instagram, you might stumble on a profile that has unbelievable claims. For example, they might state that you can double your investment overnight if you invest an initial startup fee. All this for little to no effort.
Unfortunately, while these low-risk investments are tempting, the influencer never holds up their end of the bargain. They will take your crypto, and you’ll never see them again. If you see a profile that says you can make Bitcoin fast, don’t fall for it.
Don’t Let Yourself Fall for These Scams
Though you’re opening yourself to new opportunities by investing in crypto, don’t let yourself wander into a scammer’s web. Only go with what the majority of the cryptocurrency community trusts. Dig through forums to find out whether an investment you’re onto is legit.
Use your newfound awareness of these common cryptocurrency scams on Instagram to avoid losing all your money and data to scammers.