Victims of cryptocurrency theft are scammed for the second time with false promises

ESET Latin America warns about scammers who falsely promise to recover those stolen assets or values

Being a victim of a cryptocurrency scam or a cyberattack and losing your funds is a worry and nightmare for any user. Unfortunately for many victims, there is potential for an even worse outcome. ESET, a leading company in proactive threat detection, warns, alerts, about advertisements that offer cryptocurrency recovery services, but instead of recovering the funds, all they do is steal the supposed commission that they will charge for the false management.

This type of “recovery fraud” or crypto scam is becoming more common, and even the FBI published a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about it last year, in which research indicates that almost a third (30%) of Identity theft victims have been scammed at least once.

Recovery scams are often a type of advance payment fraud, meaning the scammer will demand payment for the service they claim to provide, and once the transfer is made they disappear without doing the work. They may also request access to cryptocurrency accounts or personal and financial information, to sell the information on the dark web and be used in other scams.

“Recovery scammers are all over social media. They can proactively search for people who have just been victims of cryptocurrency theft/fraud and are venting online, and send them direct messages. Or they can work from a list of crypto victims they have obtained on some hacking forum. They can even create legitimate-looking asset recovery “companies” with official websites and advertise in paid search engine results,” says Phil Muncaster of ESET.

The sophistication of these scammers can vary. Some post basic messages on social media, others may call victims directly by phone, posing as police or judicial officials and pretending they have stolen money to return. In other cases, scammers may leave long comments on cybersecurity forums that, at best, are a mix of testimonial and advertising, promoting their services.

Some cryptocurrency recovery scammers advertise their products through low-cost, online press release distribution services. They create a fictitious press release about the recovery of stolen assets, containing links to the scam website, and then upload it to a network of subscribed media outlets for distribution.

About this type of deception of crypto victims

ESET shares some signs of scams to look out for and avoid cryptocurrency theft:

  • They ask for an upfront commission before starting their “job,” or another fee (for example, taxes) before they can process returns.
  • They may communicate with a web-based email (e.g. Gmail/Yahoo) instead of a corporate account.
  • They ask for banking, cryptocurrency account and/or personal information to “return” the funds.
  • They claim to work closely with law enforcement or government officials.
  • They make contact out of the blue, whether through text messages, email, or social media.
  • They do not offer any phone number to contact.
  • The person you contact appears to know many details about the particular case, possibly including how much was stolen and how they did it.

If you have suffered the loss of cryptocurrencies due to fraud or theft, ESET’s recommendations are:

  • Gather as much evidence as possible.
  • Report the incident to the police and/or relevant regulatory body.
  • Contact legitimate attorneys who offer recovery services, researching their business beforehand.
  • Consider the possibility of contacting the exchange house where the scammer collected (the crypto), if you have the information.

“Once cryptocurrency has been stolen from you, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Although blockchain-based currencies can be monitored, some are set up to protect the anonymity of users, so the scammer cannot be unmasked. The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies means that even if you could find out where they went, it would be extremely difficult to recover your funds. Sometimes the best thing you can do is avoid becoming a victim twice. Online scammers are predatory and lurking everywhere. Don’t let them take your money,” concludes the ESET researcher.

To learn more about computer security you can visit ESET in any of its accounts or channels:

@ESETLA    –     /compay/eset-latinoamerica    –    /esetla     –    /ESETLA     –      /@esetla

With information and reference image provided by ESET Latin America and Comstat Rowland

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