For the last week or so I’ve noticed something odd on Crypto Twitter: a new scam.

Well, not technically new, but new to the crypto space.

It’s the return of the old Advance Fee (a.k.a. Nigerian 419) scam.

Old Scam, New Method

In the good old days, the scam would be executed using a story. Typically, this was a royal family member needing a “small” amount of funds that would somehow unlock a larger fortune, which would later be shared with whomever helped.

Of course, there was no locked royal family funds, just a scammer waiting for their Western Union or Moneygram payment from their latest mark.

The new incarnation of the scam dispenses entirely with the story and instead simply relies on impersonating high profile Twitter users (John McAfee, Vitalik Buterin, Elon Musk etc.) who offer their followers a “gift”. If they send a small amount of Bitcoin or Ether first, that is.

How It’s Done

The process is stunningly simple to execute. Even more simple than the traditional letter/fax/email version of the scam.

  1. Set up a Bitcoin/Ethereum/etc. address to receive funds.
  2. Create a Twitter handle that closely resembles a famous Twitter user.
  3. Reply to a Twitter post by the real user giving the appearance of a  conversation/thread.

That’s about it.

The smarter ones take an extra step and block the real user they’re impersonating so they won’t see the scam posts.

For example, John McAfee’s official Twitter handle is @officialmcafee. A couple of fake versions I’ve seen recently are @OffiIcialmacfee@oficlalmcaffee, and @officialmc_afee.

Here’s a reply to one of the real McAfee’s tweets:

I’m donating 250 ETH to my followers. First 250 transactions with 0.25 ETH sent to the address below will each receive 1 ETH to the address the 0.25 eth came from
Claim your $ETH now!
If you’re late, your eth will be sent back !

(I intentionally blocked out the Ethereum address.)

I think the recent crash has made an easier mark out of some people who’ve taken a loss and are looking to recoup.

Heck, this version of the scam is so easy to pull off and marks to easy to come by, at least 1 person isn’t even trying very hard. Other than using the same profile pic as John McAfee, they don’t even both spelling his name right (“John Mcafee‏” — missing uppercase “A”) or even trying to use a similar handle (@meowmix6667).

Speak of the Devil

And well, would you look at that. Just as I’m about to finish up this post, along comes another attempt, this time impersonating the crypto exchange Binance.

From @Binancecrypto_ (the real Binance Twitter handle is @binance_2017) in response to their recent outage:

We at binance want to consolidate the damage we have done by giving away 200 ETH.

All you have to do is send 0.05 ETH to this adress: 0xXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

And we will send you 1 ETH to your adress once we recieve your payment.
Hurry up before we run out!

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So, beware out there. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Consider this recent tweet from Jameson Lopp.

Have you fallen prey to a crypto scam or know anyone who has?

Tell us about it in the comments.


(Photo by Liam Seskis on Unsplash)

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