The Cryptocurrency business has been exposed to cybercriminals lately more than ever, due to the increasing online activity subsequent to the outbreak of the COVID-19
Only in the last 6 months (H1) ending June 2020, approximately $24 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) has been reportedly carted away by cyber-scammers; this was according to reports from Crypto watchdog, Whale Alert.
Going by the report, the scammers took advantage of the increasing online presence of people around the globe, majorly as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19, which forced most countries into an unprecedented lockdown.
During the lockdown which is still partially ongoing in various parts of the word, a lot of digital platforms recorded a spike in their userbase, as more people had more than enough time to operate their mobile devices among other things.
For instance, the likes ofWhatsapp, Instagram, Zoom, Google Meet, among others saw an upsurge in total active users above 20%, and in some other cases more.
While this increase in online presence does not only apply to social media apps or corporate platforms; the same also applies to commercial platforms like Amazon, Jumia, Wallmart, Alibaba, and many others. Streaming platforms were not also left out as many brands recorded a significant boost as well.
That been said, one can imagine how much of transactions would have transpired across various platforms using BTC, credit cards, among other payment options. Of course, with such a boost across the board, an upsurge in cybercrime is almost inevitable, hence the outrageous amount of BTC carted away during the period in review.
BTC which is the subject of discussion here has been opened to a lot of vulnerability which mainly took toll during the lockdown, as more people result to using it as a payment option across various platforms.
The majority of the crypto-scam victims felled for dozens of different types of scams such as fake ICO’s, BTC recovery, fake exchanges, giveaways, video scams, fake tumblers, Ponzi schemes, malware among many others. Of course, there were a lot of newbies who grew interest for cryptocurrency only during the lockdown, and as such many of this category of BTC users were preyed upon.
According to Whale Alert, some of the most prominent scam during the period under review include that of a fraudster who carted away with no fewer than $130,000 by using a single web page, BTC address, and moderate publicity on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
There was another case of a stolen $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency; In this case, the fraudster was rather promoting a fake crypto-exchange platform during the period under review. Here, the victims fell in love with some impossible juicy offers including, zero transaction charges, zero tax, exaggerated profits among others. According to whale Alert, the stolen funds could amount to about $50 million before the end of the year.
Although crypto-scam is not a new topic of concern, the obsessive way in which the victim rate surges are alarming; of course it goes to show that the alternative currency is now getting more attention than ever.
Also, a recent report by Crowdstrike–themed 2020 Global Threat Report— indicates that a majority of the ransomware attack perpetrated by cybercriminals during the year 2019 mostly demanded BTC mainly because of its complexity and untraceable nature. According to the report, over $70 million worth of BTC was stolen using Malware during the previous year.
Currently, we are barely one month into the second half of the year, and going by the current trend, more cases of crypto-scams are almost inevitable. In a lighter scenario; the could be double the current case of stolen BTC by the end of the year. In other scenarios, the spike in cyber-scam could just be overly outrageous.