Since cryptocurrency is effectively cash used on the internet, scammers will go to extreme lengths in order to take your crypto away from you. This includes spinning up large-scale operations to target specific customers or companies.
But don’t be discouraged! By looking out for red flags and following basic security protocols, you can better protect your crypto.
At MoonPay, security is paramount, and we’re here to protect our customers from falling victim to scams. Here is how scammers can take advantage of you, and how you can protect yourself from crypto scams.
Crypto transactions are irreversible
All cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible, due to the nature of blockchain technology. Whenever you send cryptocurrency, you cannot retrieve your funds afterwards or stop the payment from occurring. Once the crypto is sent, the only person who can control it is the owner of the recipient wallet. This is why it’s important to only send crypto to trusted third parties or close contacts.
If you were scammed into sending crypto via MoonPay, contact MoonPay support so we can blacklist the scammer wallet immediately.
Reporting scams is critical to helping others avoid the same fate, however no customer support team will be able to get your funds back.
What is a crypto wallet?
You can think of a crypto wallet like a bank account number. Anyone that knows this information can deposit funds into your account, but only you control it. With crypto, your wallet address works the same way, enabling any sender to transfer crypto to you.
Read our article Custodial vs. non-custodial wallets to learn more about wallet types, as well as public and private keys.
Investment scams and how to avoid them
Investment scams are when someone is contacted with the false promise of earning significant returns on an initial deposit. If you’re ever contacted out of the blue with an investment offer that seems too good to be true, it’s likely because it is. Investment scam victims may receive emails showing that they have a large incoming transfer through PayPal, Venmo, or any other financial service. The catch is that in order to receive the funds, they need to send crypto first.
Some techniques employed by scammers to gain the trust of their victims include:
- Making contact on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram
- Claiming to be a crypto professional
- Inviting victims to discussion groups on how to trade crypto
- Being overly friendly with their target and helpful with investment advice right from the start.
- Sharing crypto knowledge with users that are new to crypto
- Pretending to have a romantic interest in their victim
- Showing large returns via fake websites or dashboards that allows users to see a fake profile with a high profit margin.
Investment scams are quite popular on social media and other technological platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, email, and via telephone. Fraudsters are known to hack the social media accounts of victims’ friends or family, attempting to earn their trust by impersonating a trusted close contact. If you’re ever contacted by someone you know who is offering high returns on a crypto investment and you believe they’ve been hacked, you should message them on a different messaging platform—or better yet, you can call them or ask them in person.
How to avoid investment scams
In order to avoid falling victim to an investment scam, you can take the following precautionary measures:
- Google the investment company or website to see if other customers have left reviews
- If you haven’t heard of the website before, do your own research.
- Verify with friends or family by phone, not via social media
- Never send crypto to someone that you don’t know
Romance scams and how to avoid them
One technique scammers use is building trusting relationships with their victims through emotional manipulation, coercing them into throwing logic out the window. After establishing a connection with their target, they will either introduce an investment opportunity, or make requests that appeal to emotions. These appeals may include claiming they need money to pay for emergency medical care or transportation to visit the victim over long distance.
Romance scams can start anywhere on the internet, including dating apps like Tinder. The infamous Tinder Swindler manipulated his victims into sending cash rather than crypto, but the principle still applies. Emotional manipulation on its own is quite dangerous, and when crypto is involved it becomes even more so.
Scammers may take advantage of their victims’ lack of crypto knowledge, including the fact that transactions are irreversible. One such scam on the popular dating app caused a victim to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars that he sent to a stranger online requesting money for fraudulent investment purposes.
How to avoid romance scams
Romance scams are vicious but there are ways to protect yourself. To start, you should always be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, especially if you have only recently met online.
Through emotional manipulation, scammers will try to goad victims into making a rash decision and sending funds quickly. One technique to avoid getting scammed is to slow down, and speak to friends or family to get their opinion before sending crypto.
Phishing scams and how to avoid them
Phishing scams are when attackers use malicious techniques like sending fraudulent emails to pry sensitive information from their victims. This could include credit card information, bank details, or for crypto purposes, private keys or a secret recovery phrase.
Scammers can create a real-looking website link and include it in an email, or in popular crypto forums such as Discord. By clicking on the link, victims will end up on a fraudulent website that could ask for confidential wallet information that could lead to a loss of funds.
How to avoid phishing scams
Well-crafted phishing attempts can be quite sneaky. Scammers will slightly tweak the domain name of popular websites to trick users into trusting the link. This is why it’s important to always double check links before you click, and only open messages from trusted senders.
Giveaway scams and how to avoid them
Giveaway scams are a type of crypto scam in which the scammer pretends to offer a large prize pool. This can occur on social media, where someone will pose as a credible public figure, often using the same profile picture as them, with a variation of their username. Prizes can include large sums of fiat or cryptocurrency, or promising to multiply crypto investments once deposited.
How to avoid giveaway scams
If these giveaways seem too good to be true, it’s because they are. It is highly unlikely that Elon Musk will ever give away free crypto on Twitter, and you should never click on a link to a tweet that claims he will. On the other side of the link will be a website designed to trick victims into depositing crypto into a fraudulent wallet, or into providing sensitive information like a seed phrase or private key.
Technical support scams and how to avoid them
Scammers may contact you via social media, email, or over the phone, impersonating tech support services of big brands like Apple, PayPal, and even MoonPay. Fraudsters will take advantage of the natural trust that customers have for official support channels. They may promise trading returns, special promotions, and other fraudulent offers under the guise of being affiliated with a legitimate company, even though they are not.
How to avoid technical support scams
Not every unsolicited opportunity may be a scam, but you should always be wary of offers made with no prior contact. It is generally good practice to perform transfers through official channels that include customer support or an option to report fraudulent activity. And when communicating with customer or tech support via chat or email, make sure that you are communicating privately through official channels only.
MoonPay will never contact you offering trading returns via phone or other media. If someone claiming to be from MoonPay contacts you with a special offer, report them right away.
Learn more about different types of crypto scams
There are many types of scams used by attackers, and this list is by no means exhaustive. Read our articles How to spot and avoid crypto scams and Crypto security basics to learn all about cryptocurrency scams and safe wallet management.
Do you believe you’ve been scammed into sending cryptocurrency via MoonPay? Contact us immediately. Our customer support team is available 24/7 to help.