Bitcoin was the first and most well-known cryptocurrency. It gained momentum in recent years, especially as its value reached incredible heights and more merchants agreed to accept it. Unfortunately, the popularity made it more likely for scammers to target bitcoin holders as victims for their next tricks—and too many have been taken now by Bitcoin scams.
Many criminals use social media platforms to carry out their Bitcoin scams. Here are four social media bitcoin scams you should know about and avoid.
1. Instagram Scam Tricks People Into Buying Things With Bitcoin
A recent Instagram-related scam based in Sweden tries to get people to buy high-end products for drastically reduced prices.
The sellers emphasize urgency and tell purchasers they need to act fast because the items are in demand. Then, once a seller agrees and moves into the payment process, they get asked to switch their fiat currency into cryptocurrency to finalize the transaction.
If a buyer does so, the seller disappears once the conversion goes through. Not surprisingly, customers never get the goods. This bitcoin scam is relatively easy to spot, since buyers approach their victims by asking for fiat currencies for the merchandise. They then insist there’s a problem that requires the person to pay in cryptocurrency.
When people use apps like Instagram to interact online, many are understandably worried about being tracked and having data collected. After all, nothing is truly free, and the companies behind the apps could tap into a gold mine of data about the users. Such fears are warranted in some cases and have spurred people to change their settings to discourage tracking attempts when possible.
However, as the Instagram bitcoin scam shows, people also need to be careful about potential scenarios when they might freely give their data after believing it’s necessary to buy something.
If you are offered something on Instagram or elsewhere that seems too good to be true, you should probably steer clear of it or at least think carefully before acting.
2. Untruthful Facebook Ads Lure Chinese Businessmen
Once bitcoin started rising in popularity, it became a frequent topic for Facebook ads. However, as should be evident from the previous section, social media ads are not always what they seem. One case involved the swindling of Chinese businessmen who wanted to buy bitcoin after seeing Facebook ads offering it for attractive prices.
Once they made arrangements with the sellers, the buyers received proof that the bitcoin existed and got lured to an apartment to complete the transaction in person. Soon, though, accomplices dressed as police officers raided the location, tied up the victims and stole the equivalent of $250,000 from the four people who fell for the trick.
One of the victims got himself free and thwarted the further attempts of one of the criminals, but the other two directly involved in this attack made off with valuables owned by the businessmen. There were also several other crooks connected with this crime, but only three received sentences. They got year-long prison sentences.
The lesson to learn here is that you should never go to any unfamiliar address to finish a bitcoin transaction. The nature of bitcoin means you should never have to meet in person. If the seller insists on that, always meet in a public place that’s well-populated in case something goes wrong and you need help.
3. Criminals Copy Celebrities’ Social Media Profiles for Bitcoin Contests
It’s no surprise that people with social media clout can get their online followers to pay attention to the products, services or brands they promote. That method of spreading the word caused an entire industry of social media influencers, many of whom are in perpetually high demand, to team up with brands.
It didn’t take long before scammers started targeting bitcoin enthusiasts by falsely capitalizing on the name value of businesspeople and celebrities. They cloned their accounts, then used the fake versions to entice people, often asking them to send bitcoin to enter “giveaway” contests.
When criminals copied Elon Musk’s account and made a new version, they conned people out of $37,000 worth of bitcoin before getting caught. Checking for the verified account icon is a good way to avoid this kind of scam, but it’s not always sufficient.
Some verified account holders pull this stunt, too. As such, you should always err on the side of caution and research outside of social media to confirm the validity of the “celebrity’s” offer.
4. Crooks Illegally Use Likenesses to Advertise Bitcoin Schemes
There’s a twist on Bitcoin scams where criminals take celebrity images and quotes and use them to populate Facebook ads. This gives the impression that those stars genuinely back the methods of using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as ways to get rich quick. The latest iteration of this plot features ads filled with Australian stars.
Getting to the bottom of things by researching outside of social media is an excellent way to avoid issues. Never think something is true merely because other people believe it.
Exercise Caution Every Day
These four Bitcoin scams show why it’s essential to be careful and not part too readily with your bitcoin. Scammers prey on unsuspecting people, meaning you must be as proactive as possible to stay safe.