Nikhil (not his real name), a 28-year-old crypto investor from Pune, has used several dating apps but has had no luck. But one night this year, he received a tweet from a “beautiful woman” who claimed to be from Singapore. What followed was a better match than any dating site could offer. The duo discussed cryptocurrency, football, pizza and even exchanged WhatsApp numbers.
“…she was always talking about cryptography and that made me happy. She will discuss possible investments and airdrops and I would like to talk to her,” Nikhil told indianexpress.com. However, there were categorically no video calls, as she claimed it was “uncomfortable”. About two weeks into their relationship, a woman sent him a link that looked like an NFT giveaway. But as soon as Nikhil clicked on it, his cryptocurrency wallet was hacked and NFTs worth 10 lakhs were stolen.
“I was devastated that she blocked my number and her profile doesn’t even exist on Twitter,” he said. Unfortunately, Nikhil is not alone. Many crypto investors fall victim to “cryptocurrency scams.” Victims are told stories of love and love so that criminals can gain access to their crypto wallets. And it seems that it is on Twitter that many of these cybercriminals first contact potential victims.
Neil Sinha, a crypto enthusiast, shared a similar experience when scammers tried to lure him in. He called these scams “a fake Asian girl crypto scam”. “First, you get a ‘follow’ request from Asian women on Twitter. She talks about your experience in cryptocurrency trading and proves that you are doing everything wrong. She will then tell you that she might have a better trading option,” he told indianexpress.com. Sinha noted that these scammers are always talking about lucrative options such as 60% monthly or even daily returns.
However, the catch is that they share the link. “If you click and authorize this transaction, it will be impossible to go back,” he added.
Crypto comedian and influencer Garv Malik gets at least a DM or two a week. He claimed that this happens every time he writes something about NFT/Crypto. “These fake profiles usually have Asian or Caucasian women and are easy targets for Indian men who are not used to women texting them first. The moment this happens, happiness takes away some of the rationality,” he said.
Indianexpress.com has also seen some of these messages and fake crypto giveaways posted by Twitter profiles. Many profiles use photos of Asian women as bait. And it is clear that the rise of crypto-related fraud is a global problem. The data shows that as the speed of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies continues to grow, so does the online scam associated with them.
Since October, crypto investors have lost more than $80 million in cryptocurrency investment fraud, a 1,000% increase since the fall of 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Those aged 20 to 39 were particularly hard hit, accounting for about 44% of reported losses, according to the FTC.
So how can crypto enthusiasts stay safe? “What makes these scams more dangerous is that these wallets are hard to find, so once you lose your cryptocurrencies, you can’t get them back,” explained Surajit Majumder, a cybersecurity expert.
Users are better off avoiding perk clicks, he says, as this can also lead to fraudulent exchange sites. His advice to users: “be careful with your wallet credentials and never share your seed (recovery phrase) with anyone.” Users are also advised to keep an eye out for bogus giveaways, and if a deal is too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. “You can check if an NFT website is secure using tools like Trend Micro, which are available for free,” he said.