Researchers from Kaspersky have discovered a new fraudulent campaign that targets cryptocurrency users and spreads via direct messages on Twitter.
The scam is a tweaked version of the infamous Nigerian prince scam, and begins with a direct message (DM) apparently from an inexperienced user, shared Kaspersky. Twitter is one of the few social networks where new legitimate connections often begin with a direct message from a complete stranger, so the DM doesn’t immediately signal a red flag.
In the DM, the recipient is asked for help to withdraw funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars from the crypto account of the sender, which he’s having trouble accessing. The message has the login credentials of the sender, along with the domain of the cryptocurrency exchange.
To further entice the recipient, Kaspersky believes, the sender might also promise to transfer a small but significant amount of crypto to the recipient to compensate them for their help.
Kaspersky notes that the sender surreptitiously masquerades the domain of the exchange in order to bypass common protection tools.
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Following the domain, the recipient lands on a website that appears to be an investment platform. When the user enters the login credentials provided via the DM, they are logged into the sender’s account. The account’s balance matches the amount mentioned by the sender in the DM, and is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, lending an air of legitimacy to the scam.
Hook, line, and sinker
To withdraw the currency, the victim is asked to provide their own wallet address, along with an additional password, which wasn’t provided by the sender in the DM. However, the platform suggests users can create an “account with VIP status” to complete the transaction and transfer the funds.
Not surprisingly, creating the VIP account costs some money, which is presumably far less than the promised compensation. However, as soon as the victim divulges their crypto wallet details to pay for the VIP account on the fraudulent platform, their crypto wallets are drained.
Kaspersky warns that this isn’t the first crypto scam of this nature, and unfortunately it won’t be the last. In fact, data shows, scammers made over $14 billion in 2021, with the total scam revenue for 2022 already exceeding $1.6 billion before August 2022.
“We expect more and more other sophisticated examples of crypto scams to appear soon, so all users who use crypto should be aware of how to keep their accounts, wallets, and coins secure,” said Andrey Kovtun, a security expert at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky has also shared some tips to help users avoid falling prey to scam campaigns such as this one. For starters, it advises users to be very careful of links shared via DMs, especially if that DM is from a stranger.
They also suggest users keep their eyes peeled for tell-tale signs of deception in the appearance of the linked website, which will usually have a poorly laid out page with a gaudy, weak design.