Robocallers have upped their scam game and are after your cryptocurrency

Professional scam organizations target cryptocurrency users following the FTX crash, initiating millions of robocalls and text messages in an attempt to scam information and funds.

Clayton LiaBraaten, senior executive advisor to Truecaller, an app that helps identify scam callers and messages, spoke to Cointelegraph, Fraudsters often follow cryptocurrency news closely to better prey on their victims:

“Swindlers love volatility and current events. Whenever they can try to navigate the contours of something very disruptive in the market, they are very successful.

LiaBraaten said Truecaller also saw an increase in fraudulent communications related to Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as the market started to turn volatile in early 2022.

He added “agents” who ultimately try to steal funds by launching millions of automated “robocalls” and messages that try to hook people’s “fear, curiosity and sometimes generosity”.

Phone numbers can be obtained in a variety of ways, including through data breaches that leaked millions of numbers or vitools that scrape social media platforms for information.

An imposter scam is most commonly seen by Truecaller, where a malicious actor pretends to represent a support desk or similar entity from a major cryptocurrency exchange or company. Fraudsters will also post their phone numbers on fake copycat websites, attempting to legitimize themselves.

Young adults are more often targeted by scammers since “there is so much information available about them because they post so much on social media,” according to LiaBraaten.

“They use the same handle to their Bitcoin forum as they do their TikTok and across all these social media platforms […] It is very easy to create a graph of data on these individuals and then start targeting them. There is so much material for the social engineer to grapple with with the younger generation.

The abundance of information people put online allows scammers to send contextual messages or calls to their intended targets, making malicious communications more persuasive.

“They’re great psychologists and social engineers, so they’ll try to go the extra mile to bring something contextually relevant,” LiaBraaten said.

The initial call or message won’t necessarily result in financial fraud, says LiaBraaten, with agents first attempting to acquire or confirm information about their target in an effort to build trust.

“They are building more and more details about the person and when they gather enough information, then yes, they will try to access your crypto wallet.”

“There are a lot of people who don’t really understand cryptocurrency,” LiaBraaten said. “They attack vulnerable people, so very savvy cryptocurrency enthusiasts are unlikely to fall prey to this, because they are quite sharp on what they are doing and very guarded.”

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried deepfake attempts to scam investors affected by FTX

Regardless of a person’s ability to detect a scam, he said anyone who calls or texts asking for personal information or passwords should not be involved and only official channels should be used.

“One of the worst things you can do is be on the phone with these guys because it is their mission to relieve you of your cryptocurrency. It just takes a vulnerable moment, a minute of second guessing, and then they’re off to the races.

In February, Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao raised the alarm about a “massive” SMS phishing scam targeting Binance customers.

The scam involved sending users a text message with a link to cancel withdrawals, directing users to a fake website designed to harvest their login credentials.