Earlier this month, cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investors from all across the United Kingdom were warned by a watchdog regarding the possible scammers, using the coronavirus crisis to hoax citizens.
And it looks like this was absolutely correct, as regional authorities are also sending a warning regarding this, as the number of cases keeps growing nationwide.
The Manchester city council, as well as the counties of Pembrokeshire and Norfolk, disseminated the Financial Conduct Authority’s message against various cryptocurrency-related schemes, currently operating.
Fraudsters claim to represent global organizations
According to a report from Cointelegraph, the regional authorities have identified a range of scamming tactics, taking advantage of the entire wave of social disorientation, as well as anxiety, in order to obtain access to BTC wallets or receive important amounts of cryptocurrency.
“Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account,” says the Manchester city council.
However, these are just a few examples, as more similar schemes have been discovered during the past weeks.
Some people reported that they have been offered up-to-date infection tracking data, in exchange for Bitcoin payments, while the FCA observed that high-return investment opportunities in crypto assets, could be repurposed, by taking advantage of the current virus outbreak.
So far, cryptocurrency scams have been operating on both sides of the Atlantic, ever since the entire situation started. A few weeks ago, the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission warned that this crisis could the perfect opportunity for fraudsters to add credibility to their schemes or even consider manipulating emotions.
“After depositing a few hundred dollars of cryptocurrency, the traders are fed a number of fake statements showing huge returns. When the traders try to cash out, they’re told they must first pay a fee to get their earnings. They pay the fee, then are told they need to pay a tax, then more fees, and so forth. Never send more money to get what is yours,” a statement by the CFTC reads.
Avoiding any suspicious message remains key
Cybersecurity researchers already managed to identify a new ransomware called CovidLock, as well as several appeals for donations in cryptocurrency, acting all across the UK, but also in several other European countries, seriously affected by the pandemic.
Additionally, a number of governments warned the public about the possibility of seeing more and more cryptocurrency scams, trying to exploit the widespread fears related to COVID-19. In the United Kingdom, the Financial Conduct Authority issued a public warning regarding the multiple ways used by scammers to mislead people into sending them Bitcoin, as well as other digital currencies.
The recommendation remains the same for all situations: never give your wallet credentials and avoid, at all costs, clicking on suspicious links that ask for your account details. Also, cybersecurity specialists recommend being very careful with some Telegram users impersonating otherwise well-known persons and asking for donations or contributions.