Asset at risk | Opinions

The last time is paradoxical for the digital asset market. On the one hand, there is a “crypto winter” and even the most popular coins are quoted several times lower than usual. Additionally, user confidence was undermined by the bankruptcies of large services, such as FTX, and scandalous arrests.

On the other hand, the population of sanctioned countries has become much more interested in cryptocurrencies, primarily for cross-border payments and transfers. Only in the early spring of 2022, the volume of transactions with such assets in Russia increased by 3–5 times compared to winter. And by the beginning of 2023, the Russians changed 20% more coins than a year ago.

Scammers are drawn to such demand. Therefore, when working with cryptocurrency, you need to remember a few basic schemes and rules.

Criminals often use traditional methods, from online wallet hacks to social engineering. So, for example, this year phone crooks have moved from one-time calls to “shooting” ones: they introduce themselves as investigators and talk about a certain case. After a few calls, when the potential victim begins to trust, she is asked to share payment information.

But there are unique ways – designed specifically for crypto theft. Among them:

– a proposal to quickly increase funds or give assets in trust for trading. They promise huge quick profits. As a result, funds are simply not returned back, not to mention income;

– an offer to earn hundreds and thousands of percent on the purchase of a new unknown token, which “is about to take off.” An artificial hype is being created around this project: enthusiastic bots are being brought into chat rooms, laudatory articles are ordered from bloggers. And when the influx of new investors dries up, it turns out that no one needs this asset and it is impossible to sell it;

– scammers offer to “work out bundles”: buy coins on one crypto exchange a little cheaper, sell on another a little more expensive – and earn on the difference. Usually, the user is allowed to verify the scheme for small amounts, but after several successful transactions, the attackers add a fake site to the bundle and use it to steal assets.

Moreover, in an attempt to return the lost, the victims often stumble upon other criminals – they promise to help and ask for an advance payment, but in the end disappear along with the money.

At risk are beginners who want quick and easy money, as well as people with low digital literacy. For Russians, the situation is complicated by sanctions: when trying to pay for foreign services or make transfers abroad using cryptocurrency, people can stumble upon scammers.

To prevent this, it is important to turn on critical thinking and ask yourself: “What is the interest of a person who is actually sharing a profitable scheme for free?” You should not transfer your crypto assets to anyone for management without a contract carefully verified by a lawyer.

It is better to ignore earning schemes that promise suspiciously high returns – from 20% per month. Also, you don’t need to blindly trust “evidence” in the form of screenshots of money withdrawals, comments from satisfied customers, and even video reviews. A design student will draw dozens of such reviews for a thousand rubles, and for a few thousand more, there are easily those who want to record flattering videos.

You can recognize scammers by the fact that they usually:

– hide the identity in social networks, do not go to live contact like video chats, live broadcasts, and even more so real meetings;
– they close or clean up the comments of those who are dissatisfied, guarantees are limited to incomprehensible screenshots;
– do not conclude contracts and do not issue checks;
– they ask for money in trust management, they promise to take risks.

To further secure cryptocurrencies, you should store assets on decentralized wallets (as a rule, they represent a physical medium). Only the owner has access to such storage facilities – unlike, for example, centralized exchanges. In addition, regulators and hackers pay increased attention to large sites – if they are blocked or hacked, the money will be lost.

You should not transfer private keys from crypto wallets to anyone – they give access to assets. And it is better to change passwords regularly and not to duplicate. It is also important not to use third-party links to go to digital currency services, especially from suspicious social media channels. And you should always check website addresses when making a transfer.

The author is an investor, the founder of the educational projects “Money on crypto” and “CryptoMaster”

The position of the editors may not coincide with the opinion of the author

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