Recent research by the Wall Street Journal published Dec. 27 revealed that hundreds of cryptocurrency offerings showed signs of fraudulent activity, improbable returns and plagiarism.

In the course of its research, the WSJ downloaded “white papers” of 3,291 cryptocurrency projects that announced an initial coin offering (ICO) from three websites — ICOBench.com, Tokendata.io and ICORating.com.

A white paper is an informational document issued by a company that describes the company’s position, team biography, and technical specifics of a project, and is designed to be used as a marketing tool for potential investors.

The reporters further conducted an analysis of the documents, excluding duplicate and non-English papers:

“To identify duplicate language, the Journal compared sentences with at least 10 unique words to every other sentence in other white papers. Reporters then read and reviewed nearly 10,000 sentences appearing more than once among the 3,291 papers analyzed and removed technical and legal sounding language. Then, the Journal compared reported offering dates to determine which document first published any given sentence and excluded those projects from this database.”

The analysis reportedly indicated that 16 percent — or 513 — of the aforementioned white papers showed signs of plagiarism, identity theft and promises of implausible returns. White papers of more than 2,000 of the 3,291 projects contained sentences with luring terms such as “nothing to lose, guaranteed profit, return on investment, highest return, high return, funds profit, no risk and little risk.”

State and federal regulators in the United States have previously cracked down on various offerings with similar language, issuing cease and desist orders and at times filing charges against alleged offenders.

Additionally, the WSJ tried to identify fake team members by reverse image search of photos of people associated with 343 crypto projects, which did not cite key data about team members. Some documents did not list team members at all, so the Journal searched for names appearing in a list of over one million managed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In August, the WSJ claimed in a study that cryptocurrency price manipulation was largely conducted by organized “trading groups” using services such as Telegram. The WSJ suggested that coordinated “pump and dump” schemes had seen traders inflate and crash the prices of various cryptocurrencies this year.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Cryptocurrency scams can be pretty lucrative as a string of them in Singapore has netted $78,000 in just three months.


As P.T. Barnum is reported to have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The reality is that many people are quite susceptible to get-rich-quick pitches from unscrupulous actors. A number of cryptocurrency scams in Singapore have managed to con over $78,000 from their victims between September and November.

Cryptocurrency Scams Using Online Ads

The scammers are using online ads to lure their victims into the con. These ads are specifically targeting residents of Singapore and portray Bitcoin investing as safe, easy, and highly lucrative.

Singapore

It’s quite common for these false ads to use celebrities as a means of portraying the scam as legitimate. Of course, the celebrities supposedly endorsing the investment scheme have no idea their image and name are being used in such a manner.

When people click on the ads, they’re taken to websites that offer the fraudulent investments. If a person provides their contact details, then they’re contacted by a “representative” of the company. Needless to say, any money handed over to the scammers disappears.

Not Much the Police Can Do

The victims of these cryptocurrency scams have contacted the police, but there’s actually little law enforcement can do. The perpetrators of these scams are based outside of Singapore, so they’re not regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Plus, there are no safeguards in place within the country for investing in cryptocurrencies.

The cryptocurrency space has seen more than its fair share of scammers. The combination of a lack of how the ecosystem actually works and a desire for quick money from people leads to windfalls for criminals.

Cryptocurrency Scams

A recent scam in New Zealand used a prominent TV host to lure people in. The host was supposedly interviewed by a reporter and saw his initial $250 investment double in size within just a few minutes. The reporter jumped into the action and saw the same results. The TV host, Daniel Faitaua, came out and publicly said the “interview” and the campaign behind it were fake.

Facebook saw a scam take place that used Richard Branson as an “endorser” of the investment scheme. People who gave their credit card info had their charge declined when they went to buy the cryptocurrency, so they were then forced to use a direct deposit instead. It appears the criminals then allowed the charge to go through, netting double the cash.

It goes without saying that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. An ad that promises a big return within a short period of time is a huge red flag. Always do your due diligence and invest only with trusted institutions.

Have you ever fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam? Let us know in the comments below.

This post is credited to livebitcoinnews

Hackers gained access to Target’s social media profiles to promote a Bitcoin giveaway scam.

A group of unknown hackers has just achieved a major win today after attacking Target’s Twitter account to promote a Bitcoin giveaway scam.

The now-deleted tweet is now on display after Ernst Mulders, a software developer at eVect, discovered the major retailer’s thread.

The hack apparently struck multiple accounts, including Toledo Athletics, The Body Shop, AHDB, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Serbia.

Many of these accounts were used as sock puppets to reply to Target’s announcement of its “grand giveaway” of $30 million in BTC, making the scam look legitimate.

So far, there are very few details about how the hacking incident took place, but it appears to follow a pattern of either long-term social engineering or a flaw in Twitter’s own security. The former is the more likely of the two.

It’s possible that the hackers have taken months in collecting the credentials of these accounts, fooling a number of people working in each of these organizations’ social media departments and collecting them as time passes, until the moment came to strike.

The scam asked individuals to send their BTC to a particular address, presumably the hacker’s, in a legitimate-looking page that even included a corresponding QR code for easier transactions.

The point is that this wasn’t a crackpot effort to lure a couple of ditsy individuals to give away some of their wealth. It was a professionally-executed hacking effort that included many high-profile “blue checkmark” organizations on Twitter.

A look at the destination address for this scam reveals that the hackers managed to swindle a total of 5.8634 BTC ($37,349) from people at press time. Cryptovest attempted to visit the scam site, but it is actively rejecting connections to its server, something that often happens when a host shuts down service to a malicious site in its data center.

For all the effort the hackers went through gathering credentials and collecting accounts, this scam may not have been worth it with such a poor return on investment.

The prize still goes to North Korea, which to date has made over half a billion dollars from its own shenanigans.

This post is credited to cryptovest

Hong Kong-based stock market commentator Raymond Yuen has been indicted for misleading web users into investing into a Crypto Mining Ponzi Scheme.

Based on reports on local Hong Kong media outlet The Standard, investors had narrated to the Democratic party how Yuen swindled them of HK$6.9 million in funds for a Ponzi scheme.

According to the reports, Yuen had promised juicy profits to investors who invested in the crypto mining services, he was promoting. Yuen also lured investors into signing agreements, where he recommended a 10-month payback offer, according to the report.

Sham Shui Po district councilor and deputy spokesman for the party’s financial policy panel, Ramon Yuen Hoi-man said Yuen promised them they could get their money back after the 10-months period and make profits afterward. They, however, started getting concerned about their investments as the return being sent to them was reduced on a monthly basis.

While the media outlet remains unclear if some investors had taken out a loan or not, one of the complainants, Chan, according to the Standard, had borrowed HK$200,000, which she used to invest into the mining services for a little yield of HK$7 per day.

Investors who filed the complaint complained about the lack of transparency regarding the contract and the share of profit, which they claim was far less than they expected. They also accuse Yuen of failing to disclose the risks involved in cryptocurrency mining and making false claims about the affiliation of the company with the founder of the cryptocurrency being mined, which he claimed could change the “algorithm to outperform its competitors.”

Shum Wan-wa, a lawyer and a member of the Wong Tai Sin District Council, said the contract signed by the investors was a trap, as it included a waiver to their right to file a class action suit against the company.

Known as “The Young Wizard of Investment”, Yuen, who had shot to prominence in the early 2000s for his analysis of the stock market, had lured investors in with his status as a financial expert, who had built his status through two radio shows on financial investments and authored a book on stock investments.

This post is credited to ccn

Authorities in Bulgaria have clamped down on the shady sale of international passports to foreigners from some parts of Eastern Europe in exchange for bitcoin. Erring citizens of Bulgaria, Ukraine, Moldova, and Macedonia have been allegedly involved in the perpetration of such illegal activities.

Officials Arrested

The citizenship issuance which was authorized by Bulgarian officials has landed suspected officials in the police net. Among those who were apprehended by the Prosecutor’s General Office are Bulgarian State Agency for Bulgarians’ matters abroad Peter Haralampiev, General Secretary Krasimir Tomov and the member of the agency Mark Stoyov.

Corroborating the apprehension of these officials, the Chief Prosecutor of the State Ivan Geshev stated:

“Peter Haralampiev, Krasimir Tomov, and Mark Stoyov have been arrested for fraud with the issuance of Bulgarian passports to Ukrainian, Moldovan and Macedonian citizens.”

While the legal counsels of the accused officials have denied their clients’ involvement in the receipt of unauthorized payments, the Prosecutor General insists that they have evidence to prove the process was facilitated with a digital asset as the means of exchange.

The scandal has put the government in a bad light but the Vice Prime Minister of Bulgaria Valeri Simeonov maintains that he has no intention of relinquishing power because of the level of corruption in the agency.

Apart from the involvement of government officials in this action which is punishable by the law, 20 individuals were recently detained in Bulgaria for selling the country’s passport to desperate citizens of Ukraine, Moldova, and Macedonia. The suspects allegedly received close to $5.6 thousand for just a document.

Leveraging the EU Concession

Bulgaria became a member state of the European Union (EU) in 2007. The EU passport provides citizens of other EU member states with the concession of traveling and living within the territories of the EU with little or no restriction.

The business of selling fake passports is being leveraged by several illegal immigrants who are keen on obtaining papers to enter EU countries. An underground syndicate in Greece with a branch in the Czech Republic was swooped upon by the Europol in 2016. Five among its operators were Ukrainians while other leaders of the group were citizens of Sudan and Bangladesh.

These criminals specialized in the sale of fake Schengen visas, residence permits, and driver’s licenses. The fee for obtaining forged documents depended on the region of the individual involved. Immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia could obtain their passports for £3,000 to £3,500 while European citizens could pay as much as £8,000.

This post is credited to ccn

According to a new report from U.S.-based security firm Recorded Future published on Oct. 25, the North Korean government has sponsored at least two scam coins.

In the report entitled “Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite,” Recorded Future’s research team Insikt Group mentions two alleged altcoin scams tied to North Korea.

The first scam coin allegedly backed by North Korea is called Interstellar coin, and was found by Insikt Group in June 2018. The coin has reportedly been rebranded a number of times, going by various names such as HOLD, HUZU, or Stellar. The latter should not be confused with the XLM token.

According to the report, the HOLD coin has been listed and delisted on a series of crypto exchanges, eventually defrauding investors in a scam staking scheme.

The second scam coin dubbed Marine Chain coin was detected in a “couple of Bitcoin forums” in August 2018. The coin, which supposedly enabled the tokenization of maritime vessels for multiple users and owners, was claimed to be fraudulent by the state of Ontario, Canada.

A slew of users complained about the loss of tens of thousands of dollars and scams on the website, which was hosted at four different IP addresses since its registration. Some users pointed out that the website marine-chain.io was a near mirror image of another site shipowner.io:

April 2018 screenshots of marine-chain[.]io and shipowner[.]io. Source: Recorded Ruture

April 2018 screenshots of marine-chain[.]io and shipowner[.]io. Source: Recorded Ruture

In previous research, Insikt Group discovered that North Korean leaders were mining both Bitcoin (BTC) and privacy-oriented altcoin Monero (XMR), while at a limited or “relatively small scale.”

Earlier this year, Recorded Future released a report investigating the potential ties of major crypto exchange hacks with North Korea-affiliated cybercrime group Lazarus. Insikt noted the potential involvement of the group in the hack of South Korea’s Bithumb crypto exchange, following previous accusations of hacking Youbit exchange.

Last week, Cointelegraph reported that Lazarus stole $571 million in cryptocurrencies since early 2017. According to cybercrime firm Group-IB, the total amount stolen from online crypto exchanges during the studied time between 2017 and 2018 reached $882 million.

This post is credit to cointelegraph

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is the latest high-profile individual to be used in perpetuating a cryptocurrency scam.

According to the Prime Minister’s office, various ads bearing her image have appeared on social media network Facebook with the intention of persuading citizens of the Asia Pacific country to invest in a cryptocurrency startup.

To add to the legitimacy, the ads also allege that the New Zealand Treasury has invested approximately NZ$250 million, or ‘50%’ of its currency reserves in a cryptocurrency firm known as Bitcoin Revolution, according to Stuff.

“The New Zealand Treasury has just invested half of its wealth into a new project which the government believes will shape the future of the financial industry. The New Zealand Treasury now looks set to take the world of blockchain technology by storm. On Saturday, they finalized a $250 million deal with The Bitcoin Revolution, saying that ‘the future of finance depends upon people having access to the best possible resources’,” read one of the ads before they were eventually deleted by Facebook.

New Fraud Plan

The ads which bore the headline ‘New Investment Plan for Kiwis’ targeted different demographic groups with some of them aimed at those aged between 30 and 45 while others were directed at those aged between 46 and 65.

Late last year, John Key, the immediate former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was also featured on ads that appeared on social media platforms and which claimed that an investment of NZ$1,000 he had made seven years prior had resulted in a NZ$300 million fortune.

Such cryptocurrency scams are a global epidemic, however, and are not restricted to New Zealand. Last month, for instance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was forced to issue a statement warning citizens over a fraudulent bitcoin investment scheme which purported to have been endorsed by the chairman of the MAS and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Riding the Celebrity Bandwagon

In August the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, was also a victim of cryptocurrency scammers who used his image and person to promote a fraudulent bitcoin giveaway on social media. During the same month, the Twitter account belonging to the co-founder and CEO of electric car maker Tesla, Elon Musk, was momentarily hacked and used to promote a bitcoin and ethereum giveaway scam to followers of the tech billionaire.

Other high-profile figures who have been impersonated include the co-founder of ethereum Vitalik Buterin, Hollywood actor William Shatner, tech entrepreneur and cryptocurrency evangelist John McAfee, and the founder and chairman of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson.

This post is credited to ccn