Bitcoin scams net $24 million so far in 2020

A new report says criminals have used Bitcoin scams to rake in a cool US$24 million [AU$34.3 million] in the first six months of 2020.

The report is the result of Twitter bot Whale Alert collaborating with Scam Alert.

Tracking down Bitcoin scams

The work done for the report was extremely thorough. Whale Alert writes, “We have gone through hundreds of thousands of reports from various sources, visited hundreds of websites, and collected data for tens of thousands of bitcoin addresses and the results can be summarized in three words: crypto crime pays.”

Whale Alert is not kidding that such crime pays. It is noted that scammers have reaped a windfall of US$38 million in stolen Bitcoin over the last four years. Of that amount, $23 million is just from the first half of this year.

An important thing to remember is that this report does not include crimes like Ponzi schemes and ransomware.

The report goes on to explain just how quickly the money can pile up for a Bitcoin scam.

Whale Alert says, “Some of the most successful scams made over $130,000 in a single day with nothing more than a one page website, a bitcoin address and a decent amount of YouTube advertising.”

One particular scam has taken in over US$1.5 million despite the fact its website is of amateur quality and filled with spelling errors.

Bitcoin scams net $24 million so far in 2020

Projected massive increase

The authors of the report believe that Bitcoin scams are going to increase dramatically. They expect such crimes to hit at least an annual revenue of US$50 million by the end of the year. This would mark a twentyfold increase since 2017.

The reason for this increase is that the “scam market is characterized by high profits, no taxes, minimal effort, and zero risk.”

The report also adds that such Bitcoin scams are showing increased professionalism and aggressiveness. One popular method of stealing cryptocurrency from people is by using the name and likeness of a celebrity for promotion.

Many Bitcoin scams have used the name and likeness of celebrities.

The current notable scam is the Giveaway, which features Elon Musk. However, Musk is not alone in this regard.

Some other famous people that have been used by criminals to promote Bitcoin scams include Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman; Sir John Key, the former prime minister of New Zealand; The AM Show host Duncan Garner; and John de Mol, the creator of Big Brother and The Voice.

An ominous warning issued in the report is that the use of celebrities in such scams will become more effective as deepfake technology improves.

Images courtesy of David McBee/Pexels, skeeze/Pixabay, and Dick Thomas Johnson/Wikimedia Commons

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