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Pay Attention to These 7 Bitcoin Scams

Bitcoin – the possible Pandora’s Box of the currency world – has never been short of controversy. Whether it be aiding the black market or scamming users out of millions, bitcoin is no stranger to the front page.

Still, the jury is out on the legality and usefulness of bitcoin – leaving it in a proverbial grey area. Bitcoin’s price has fluctuated throughout its history, falling and rising, currently hovering near $10,000. Perhaps you’ve found bitcoin while it looks to be on the rebound and find yourself interested in it as an investment.

However, there have been several legitimate bitcoin scams that have become infamous, and you need to know about them – but, what are the top 7 bitcoin scams? And how can you avoid them?

What Is a Bitcoin Scam?

For most cases, it may be pretty obvious what a scam is – but with bitcoin, and cryptocurrency in general, things become murkier. Bitcoin itself is an unregulated form of currency that essentially is a mere number that is only given value because of an agreement. It’s basically like a moneybag with a lock on it – the code of which is given to the recipient of the bitcoin (an analogy drawn by Forbes in 2020).

Bitcoin scams have been famously criminal and public in nature. With no bank as a middleman in exchange, things become more complicated; so hackers and con men have had a heyday.

Top 7 Bitcoin Scams

There have been (and undoubtedly will be) nearly countless bitcoin scams, but these frauds make the list of the top 7 worst bitcoin scams to date. Take note.

1. Malware Scams

Malware has long been the hallmark of many online scams. But with cryptocurrency, it poses an increased threat given the nature of the currency in and of itself.

Recently, a tech support site called Bleeping Computer issued a warning about cryptocurrency-targeting malware in hopes of saving customers from sending cryptocoins via transactions, reported Yahoo Finance.

“This type of malware, called CryptoCurrency Clipboard Hijackers, works by monitoring the Windows clipboard for cryptocurrency addresses, and if one is detected, will swap it out with an address that they control,” wrote Lawrence Abrahams, computer forensics and creator of Bleeping Computer.

The malware, CryptoCurrency Clipboard Hijackers (which reportedly manages 2.3 million bitcoin addresses) switches addresses used to transfer cryptocoin with ones the malware controls – thus transferring the coins to the scammers instead. And, according to Asia Times, even MacOS malware has been connected to malware scams involving cryptocurrency investors using trusted sites like Slack and Discord chats – coined “OSX.Dummy.”

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2. Fake Bitcoin Exchanges – BitKRX

Surely one of the easiest ways to scam investors is to pose as an affiliate branch of a respectable and legitimate organization. Well, that’s exactly what scammers in the bitcoin field are doing.

South Korean scam BitKRX presented itself as a place to exchange and trade bitcoin, but was ultimately fraudulent. The fake exchange took on part of the name of the real Korean Exchange (KRX), and scammed people out of their money by posing as a respectable and legitimate cryptocurrency exchange.

BitKRX claimed to be a branch of the KRX, a creation of KOSDAQ, South Korean Futures Exchange, and South Korean Stock Exchange, according to Coin Telegraph.

BitKRX used this faux-affiliation to ensnare people to use their system. The scam was exposed in 2020.

3. Ponzi Scheme – MiningMax

“Ponzi bitcoin scam” has got to be the worst combination of words imaginable for financial gurus. And, the reality is just as bad.

Several organizations have scammed people out of millions with Ponzi schemes using bitcoins, including South Korean website MiningMax. The site, which was not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, promised to provide investors with daily ROI’s in exchange for an original investment and commission from getting others to invest (basically, a Ponzi scheme). Apparently, the site was asking people to invest $3,200 for daily ROI’s over two years, and a $200 referral commission for every personally recruited investor, reports claim.

MiningMax’s domain was privately registered in mid-2020, and had a binary compensation structure. The fraudulent crypto-currency scam was reported by affiliates, resulting in 14 arrests in Korea in December of 2020.

Korea has long been a leader in technological developments – bitcoin is no exception. However, after recent controversy, it seems as though this is changing.

“But a lot of governments are looking at this very carefully,” Yoo Byung-joon, business administration professor at Seoul National University and co-author of the 2020 research paper “Is Bitcoin a Viable E-Business?: Empirical Analysis of the Digital Currency’s Speculative Nature,” told South China Morning Post in January. “Some are even considering putting their currencies on the blockchain system. The biggest challenge facing bitcoin now is the potential for misuse, but that’s true of any new technology.”

4. Fake Bitcoin Scam – My Big Coin

A classic (but no less dubious) scam involving bitcoin and cryptocurrency is simply, well, fake currency. One such arbiter of this faux bitcoin was My Big Coin. Essentially, the site sold fake bitcoin. Plain and simple.

In early 2020, My Big Coin, a cryptocurrency scam that lured investors into sinking an alleged $6 million, was sued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, according to a CFTC case filed in late January.

The CFTC case further details that the suit was due to “commodity fraud and misappropriation related to the ongoing solicitation of customers for a virtual currency known as My Big Coin (MBC),” further charging the scam with “misappropriating over $6 million from customers by, among other things, transferring customer funds into personal bank accounts, and using those funds for personal expenses and the purchase of luxury goods.”

Among other things, the site fraudulently claimed that the coin was being actively traded on several platforms, and even mislead investors by claiming it was also partnered with MasterCard, according to the CFTC case.

Those sued included Randall Carter, Mark Gillespie and the My Big Coin Pay, Inc.

5. ICO Scam – Bitcoin Savings and Trust and Centra Tech

Still other scammers have used ICO’s – initial coin offerings – to dupe users out of their money.

Along with the rise in blockchain-backed companies, fake ICOs became popular as a way to back these new companies. However, given the unregulated nature of bitcoin itself, the door has been wide open for fraud.

Most ICO frauds have taken place through getting investors to invest in or through fake ICO websites using faulty wallets, or by posing as real cryptocurrency-based companies.

Notably, $32 million Centra Tech garnered celebrity support (most famously from DJ Khaled), but was exposed for ICO fraud back in April of 2020, according to Fortune. The company was sued for misleading investors and lying about products, among other fraudulent activities.

The famous DJ wrote his support in a caption on Instagram back in 2020.

“I just received my titanium centra debit card. The Centra Card & Centra Wallet app is the ultimate winner in Cryptocurrency debit cards powered by CTR tokens!” Khaled wrote.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission even issued a warning in 2020 about ICO scams and faux investment opportunities, brought on by a slew of celebrities who promoted certain ICOs (like Paris Hilton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. to name a few).

“Any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion,” the SEC wrote in an Investor Alert in 2020. “A failure to disclose this information is a violation of the anti-touting provisions of the federal securities laws.”

Another example is Bitcoin Savings and Trust, which was fined $40.7 million in 2020 by the SEC for creating fake investments and using a Ponzi scheme to scam investors. According to Coin Telegraph, Trenton Shavers, the organization’s leader, allegedly scammed investors into giving him 720,000 bitcoins promising a 7% weekly interest on investments – which he then used to pay back old investors and even fill his personal bank accounts.

6. Bitcoin Gold Scam – mybtgwallet.com

Nothing catches the eye of the naïve quite like the promise of gold – bitcoin gold, of course.

That is exactly what mybtgwallet.com did to unsuspecting bitcoin investors.

According to CNN, the bitcoin gold (BTG) wallet duped investors out of $3.2 million in 2020 by promising to allow them to claim their bitcoin gold. The website allegedly used links on a legitimate website (Bitcoin Gold) to get investors to share their private keys or seeds with the scam, as this old screenshot from the website shows.

Before the scam was done, the website managers (slash scammers) was able to get their hands on $107,000 worth of bitcoin gold, $72,000 of litecoin, $30,000 of ethereum, and $3 million of bitcoin, according to CNN.

Bitcoin Gold, the site’s wallet used in the scam, began investigating shortly after, but the site remains controversial. Still, firm released a warning to bitcoin investors.

“It’s worth reminding everyone that it will never be truly safe to enter your private key or mnemonic phrase for a pre-existing wallet into any online website,” Bitcoin Gold wrote. “When you want to sweep new coins from a pre-fork wallet address, best practice is the same as after other forks: Send your old coins to a new wallet first, before you expose the private keys of the original wallet. Following this basic rule of private key management greatly reduces your risk of theft.”

7. Pump and Dump Scam

While this type of scam is certainly not relegated to just bitcoin (thank you for the education, “The Wolf of Wall Street”), a pump-and-dump scam is especially dangerous in the internet space.

The basic idea is that investors hype up (or “pump up”) a certain bitcoin – that is usually an alternative coin that is very cheap but high risk – via investor’s websites, blogs, or even Reddit, according to The Daily Dot. Once the scammers pump up a certain bitcoin enough, skyrocketing its value, they cash out and “dump” their bitcoin onto the naïve investors who bought into the bitcoin thinking it was the next big thing.

Bittrex, a popular bitcoin exchange site, released a set of guidelines to avoid bitcoin pump-and-dump scams.

While “stackin’ penny stocks” may sound like an appealing way to earn an extra buck (thanks to its glamorization by Jordan Belfort), messing in bitcoin scams is nothing to smirk at.

How to Avoid Bitcoin Scams

With the inevitable rise of bitcoin in current and coming years, it is becoming increasingly important to understand and be on the lookout for bitcoin scams that could cost you thousands. As more people become interested in Bitcoin, more people are also likely to try and pull off a scam.

There is no one formula to avoiding being scammed, but reading up on the latest bitcoin red flags, keeping information private, and double checking sources before investing in anything are good standard procedures that may help save you from being duped. Cryptocurrency can be a confusing topic even for the experienced Bitcoin enthusiast, so the more you read up on the world of Bitcoin, the more prepared you can be. After all, knowledge is power.

How to Invest in Bitcoin

Thinking of investing in Bitcoin?

This post will outline some things you NEED to know before you buy.

We’re going to explain:

  • The basics of investing in bitcoin
  • Why it needs to be taken seriously
  • How to buy bitcoins (with credit card or bank account)
  • How to protect and properly secure your bitcoins if you do decide to invest

Quick Info – Top Exchanges

How to Purchase Bitcoins

Coinbase

Coinbase is the world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) broker. They represent an easy and fast way for new users to purchase bitcoins. Coinbase supports customers in over 30 countries, including the United States, Europe (besides Germany), UK, Singapore, Canada, and Australia.

Customers in the above-mentioned countries can purchase bitcoins by debit card, bank transfer, SEPA transfer, and more.

We may receive compensation when you use Coinbase. Please visit Coinbase for its exact pricing terms.

  • High liquidity and buying limits
  • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
  • “Instant Buy” option available with debit card
  • Purchases made with bank transfer can take up to 5 days to complete
  • Coinbase may track how and where you spend your bitcoins

Coinmama

Coinmama allows customers in almost every country to buy bitcoin with a credit or debit card. They charge a 4.9%-5.9% (depends on volume) fee on each purchase.

Customers in Europe can also purchase bitcoins with SEPA transfer for a lower fee.

Want to buy using Coinmama? This step-by-step guide will show you how to use Coinmama.

We may receive compensation when you use Coinmama. Please visit Coinmama for its exact pricing terms.

  • Works in almost all countries
  • Highest limits for buying bitcoins with a credit card
  • Reliable and trusted broker
  • Some of the highest fees among credit/debit card bitcoin brokers

Bitpanda

Bitpanda is a Bitcoin broker based in Europe.

They have high payment limits and low fees across their wide range of payment methods.

Bitpanda offers customers the option to buy bitcoins with credit card, debit card, SOFORT, Skrill, NETELLER, giropay, eps, SEPA, and Online Bank Transfer.

We may receive compensation when you use Bitpanda. Please visit Bitpanda for its exact pricing terms.

  • Some of the lowest fees for buying bitcoins with credit/debit card
  • Reliable and trusted broker
  • Fees aren’t shown openly on the site but instead included in the buying price

CEX.io Buy Bitcoin Read Review

CEX.io lets you buy bitcoin with a credit card, ACH bank transfer, SEPA transfer, cash, or AstroPay. Purchases made with a credit card give you access to your bitcoin immediately. CEX.io works in the United States, Europe, and certain countries in South America.

We may receive compensation when you use CEX.io. Please visit CEX.io for its exact pricing terms.

  • Support for many countries and regions
  • Low 0.2% trading fee
  • Established and trusted exchange
  • Verification process is extensive, requiring much personal information (including a photo) and incurring a long delay
  • GBP market lacks liquidity

Why Bitcoin is Gaining Traction

The world is becoming ever more reliant on the internet.

It is no surprise that Bitcoin, a secure, global, and digital currency has claimed the interest of investors.

Bitcoin is open to everyone and provides an exciting opportunity to delve into an entirely new asset class.

Investing in bitcoin may seem scary, but know that it takes time and effort to understand how Bitcoin works.

Note: Bitcoin with a capital “B” references Bitcoin the network or Bitcoin the payment system; bitcoin with a lowercase “b” references bitcoin as a currency or bitcoin the currency unit.

Why Invest in Bitcoin?

It seems silly to some people that one bitcoin can be worth hundreds of dollars.

What makes bitcoins valuable?

Bitcoins are scarce and useful.

Let’s look to gold as an example currency. There is a limited amount of gold on earth.

As new gold is mined, there is always less and less gold left and it becomes harder and more expensive to find and mine.

The same is true with Bitcoin.

There are only 21 million Bitcoin, and as time goes on, they become harder and harder to mine. Take a look at Bitcoin’s inflation rate and supply rate:

In addition to being scarce, bitcoins are useful.

Bitcoin’s sound monetary policy is one of its most important features. It’s possible to see when new bitcoins are created or how many bitcoins are in circulation.

Bitcoins can be sent from anywhere in the world to anywhere else in the world. No bank can block payments or close your account. Bitcoin is censorship resistant money.

Bitcoin makes cross border payments possible, and also provides an easy way for people to escape failed government monetary policy.

The internet made information global and easy to access. A sound, global currency like Bitcoin will have the same impact on finance and the global economy.

If you understand the potential impact of Bitcoin, it won’t be hard to hard to understand why investing in bitcoin may be a good idea.

Bitcoin’s Price

There is no official Bitcoin price. Bitcoin’s price is set by whatever people are willing to pay. Buy Bitcoin Worldwide’s is a good resource for the current and historical price.

Bitcoin’s price is generally shown as the cost of one bitcoin. However, exchanges will let you buy any amount, and you can buy less than one bitcoin. Below is a chart showing Bitcoin’s entire price history:

When is the right time to buy?

As with any market, nothing is for sure.

Throughout its history, Bitcoin has generally increased in value at a very fast pace, followed by a slow, steady downfall until it stabilizes.

Use tools like Bitcoin Wisdom or Cryptowatch to analyze charts and understand Bitcoin’s price history.

Bitcoin is global and not affected by any single country’s financial situation or stability.

For example, speculation about the Chinese Yuan devaluating has, in the past, caused more demand from China, which also pulled up the exchange rate on U.S. and Europe based exchanges.

Global chaos is generally seen as beneficial to Bitcoin’s price since Bitcoin is apolitical and sits outside the control or influence of any particulate government.

When thinking about how economics and politics will affect Bitcoin’s price, it’s important to think on a global scale and not just about what’s happening in a single country.

Quick Info – Top Exchanges

How to Invest in Bitcoins and Where to Buy

The difficulty of buying bitcoins depends on your country. Developed countries have more options and more liquidity.

Coinbase is the world’s largest bitcoin broker and available in the United States, UK, Canada, Singapore, and most of Europe.

You can use our exchange finder to find a place to buy bitcoins in your country.

How to Secure Bitcoins

As with anything valuable, hackers, thieves, and scammers will all be after your bitcoins, so securing your bitcoins is necessary.

If you’re serious about investing in bitcoin and see yourself buying a significant amount, we recommend using Bitcoin wallets that were built with security in mind.

  • Ledger Nano X – Ledger is a Bitcoin security company that offers a wide range of secure Bitcoin storage devices. We currently see the Ledger Nano X as Ledger’s most secure wallet. Read more about the Ledger Nano X.
  • TREZOR – TREZOR is a hardware wallet that was built to secure bitcoins. It generates your Bitcoin private keys offline. Read more about TREZOR.

Bitcoins should only be kept in wallets that you control.

If you leave $5,000 worth of gold coins with a friend, your friend could easily run off with your coins and you might not see them again.

Because Bitcoin is on the internet, they are even easier to steal and much harder to return and trace. Bitcoin itself is secure, but bitcoins are only as secure as the wallet storing them.

Investing in bitcoin is no joke, and securing your investment should be your top priority.

Should you Invest in Bitcoin Mining?

The Bitcoin mining industry has grown at a rapid pace.

Mining, which could once be done on the average home computer is now only done profitably in specialized data centers.

These datacenters are warehouses, filled with computers built for the sole purpose of mining Bitcoin. Today, it costs millions of dollars to even start a profitable mining operation.

Bitcoin miners are no longer a profitable investment for new Bitcoin users.

If you want a small miner to play around with mining, go for it. But don’t treat your home mining operation as an investment or expect to get a return.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to understand how Bitcoin works before investing any money.

Bitcoin is still new and it can take months to understand the true impact Bitcoin can have on the world.

Take some time to understand Bitcoin, how it works, how to secure bitcoins, and about how Bitcoin differs from fiat money.

The above information should not be taken as investment advice. It is for general knowledge purposes only. You should do your own research before buying any bitcoins.

Beware of These Top 5 Bitcoin Scams

The value of bitcoins goes up, and then it comes back down. The press is all over the story. Pundits and market watchers all have their opinion and voice it loudly across the airwaves and the Internet.

Bitcoin has taken us all on quite a rollercoaster ride. Only time will tell whether this cryptocurrency, which has been controversial since its introduction in 2008, will continue booming or if the bubble will burst and prompt more people to short-sell Bitcoin.

One thing is certain: Bitcoin’s meteoric rise has attracted a lot of attention. People may not understand the technology or philosophy behind Bitcoin, but they do see stories of early adopters and savvy investors who turned a few thousand bucks into millions when Bitcoin’s value increased.

And they want to be one of them.

Unfortunately, that puts them in a position—along with veteran investors—to be victims of opportunistic con artists and hackers who perpetrate Bitcoin scams. One of the benefits of cryptocurrency is that it’s unregulated by the government and very private. But that also makes it ripe for fraud.

Let’s check out the top five Bitcoin scams you need to look out for:

Bitcoin Scam 1: Fake Bitcoin Exchanges

In 2020, South Korean financial authorities and the local Bitcoin community exposed one of the most insidious Bitcoin scams: a fake exchange called BitKRX. It presented itself as part of the largest trading platform in the country and took people’s money. To avoid this, you should stick with popular, well-known Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin forums so you get news of fakes quickly.

Bitcoin Scam 2: Ponzi Schemes

Bernie Madoff is perhaps the most well-known Ponzi schemer. He did it with mainstream investments. But the principle of a pyramid scheme, in which you take money from new investors to pay previous investors, can be applied to Bitcoin scams. MiningMax, one such scheme, brought in $200 million before 14 fraudsters were arrested. As you can imagine, the investors never got any returns on their Bitcoin investments.

Bitcoin Scam 3: Fake Cryptocurrencies

A common scam is to present a new cryptocurrency as an alternative to Bitcoin. The idea is that it’s too late to cash in on Bitcoin and that you need to invest in one of these up-and-coming cryptocurrencies. My Big Coin was shut down for this reason. The fraudsters behind My Big Coin took $6 million from customers to invest in the fake cryptocurrency and then redirected the funds into their personal bank accounts.

Bitcoin Scam 4: Old School Scams

If somebody emailed or called and said they were from the IRS and that you owed back taxes that had to be paid immediately, would you send them money? Many people do. Instead of having the victim wire money via Western Union or transfer funds to a bank account, con artists are contacting victims and demanding that victims transfer bitcoins. The best way to avoid this scam is to be skeptical of phone calls or emails that say they’re from a government agency. Legitimate authorities wouldn’t contact you that way, and they won’t ask for bitcoins.

Bitcoin Scam 5: Malware

Malware has long been a way for hackers to get passwords needed to access computer networks or steal credit card and bank account numbers. Now they’re using it to conduct another one of the most common Bitcoin scams. If your Bitcoin wallet is connected to the Internet, they can use malware to get access and drain your funds if you’re not protecting yourself from malware.

You can download malware by clicking links in your email. You can also download it from websites and social media. There might be a post, for example, where someone claims a certain program allows you to mine bitcoins for free. Download it, and you get malware.

When in Doubt, Verify

If you’re not sure of a website or email’s legitimacy, contact the company involved directly. If you can’t find the company’s contact information easily on social media or on its website, that’s a red flag.

Don’t Fall Victim to Bitcoin Scams

Bitcoin is a volatile enough investment as it is. Don’t increase your chances of losing money by falling prey to these Bitcoin scams. Stay alert for potential fraudsters and trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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