Crypto thefts, hacks, and frauds totaled $1.4 billion in the first five months of 2020, fueled in part by coronavirus-related crypto crimes. The biggest contributor to cryptocurrency crimes in the past five months, however, was not coronavirus related. Rather, the billion-dollar WoToken ponzi scheme operated out of China, defrauding more than 715,000 people of approximately $1 billion worth of crypto at current prices.
In its Spring 2020 Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering and Crime Report, CipherTrace revealed that coronavirus-related fraud entails the luring of victims off legitimate platforms into chat rooms where payment in bitcoin can be requested. Phishing sites were found to be the most popular COVID-19 related products sold on the dark web, while most fake COVID-19 PPE products had few sales.
“In spite of what people may assume, coronavirus-related crimes are not the main cause of the spike in cryptocurrency crimes this spring,” said Dave Jevans, the CEO of CipherTrace. “In fact, darknet markets have been relatively unsuccessful at selling fake COVID-19 PPE products.” Covid crime is enabled by cryptocurrencies, as nearly 100% of the coronavirus scams use crypto, Mr. Jevans pointed out.
Cryptocurrencies, to be sure, are cleaner than the reputation which precedes them. “In the early days of bitcoin, criminal activity at Silk Road and the Mt. Gox theft heavily skewed the proportion of criminal levels resulting in the vilification of virtual assets,” he said. “The reality is that criminal use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is very low, less than 0.2% of the funds accepted by exchanges is directly from criminal sources.”
Still, cryptocurrency users must practice good security hygiene to avoid account takeovers and thefts, using best practices such as multi-factor authentication, while avoiding text messages as a second factor.
“Scammers often work by luring victims off of legitimate platforms into chat rooms where payment in bitcoin can be requested,” warns Jevans. “Don't be fooled by these types of requests.”
I write about Bitcoin, blockchain, and related topics here and have owned and operated GoldSilverBitcoin, which has since 2012 provided a two way market for precious
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I write about Bitcoin, blockchain, and related topics here and have owned and operated GoldSilverBitcoin, which has since 2012 provided a two way market for precious metals and Bitcoin. I've spoken at conferences such as Inside Bitcoins in Berlin and Las Vegas, and the Bitcoin Conference in San Francisco. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn....