Cryptocurrency is famous for its decentralized nature, and people utilize blockchain-based technology to make transactions without involving any third party. Since its inception in 2009, Bitcoin has gained a lot of popularity and has become a household name for decentralized transactions. The coin is so popular that its market cap once hit the $3 trillion mark.
However, with the increase in the value and use of cryptocurrency around the globe, the number of scammers trying to scam crypto holders has also grown exponentially.
Although scammers are present in every market, the number of thugs in the crypto field is unmatched by any other field. That’s mainly because of the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. A popular way scammers use to loot crypto holders is by hacking their mobile phones.
So, if you’re also a crypto holder who uses his phone to manage cryptocurrency, this article is for you. Read carefully, and it’ll save you a lot of time and money.
Cryptocurrency has basically been designed to replace the current global financial system. This parallel system seems to be a lot more anonymous, secure, and efficient and is way cheaper to use. However, crypto is yet far from becoming the default payment option but is still being used as an investment option to help its investors fight inflation.
The use of Bitcoin and other crypto coins is being normalized slowly but steadily by companies and crypto exchanges around the globe. An example of this is the introduction of Bitcoin ATMs to make the currency more viable and usable on the go. Businesses have also accepted the dominance of bitcoin and are now allowing their customers to pay with bitcoin both at their outlets and online.
The success of bitcoin, combined with the decentralized and open-source nature of blockchain technology, has allowed many other tech companies to make and introduce their own coins.
However, this flow of money in the crypto space has also attracted lots of scammers. The usual target of these scammers is crypto investors with little to no knowledge of the industry.
Crypto Scams on Mobile Phones
Smartphones have become a necessity in this digital age, and everyone seems to be carrying a smartphone with them to manage their everyday tasks and to communicate with the rest of the world. Crypto trading platforms have also introduced many smartphone applications to help their investors manage their crypto assets on the go.
Since there are millions of smartphone users managing their cryptocurrency on the go with their phones, scammers find it relatively easy to steal crypto from them as compared to laptops and desktops. Your smartphone can also be hacked or manipulated by a scammer to gain access to your crypto assets.
Mobile phones have now become strong enough to run blockchain networks and store lots of data easily. The number of crypto exchanges with mobile applications is increasing continuously.
So, you might become a victim of a large attack by scammers and might lose all of your crypto assets if you act irresponsibly. Once a hacker gains access to your mobile phone, it is easy for him to steal your cryptocurrency by getting the password of your crypto wallet from the device.
Is Your Mobile Safe?
If you have invested in crypto and managed your wallet through your mobile phone, it is very important that you make yourself aware of all the scams waiting for you out there.
In this article, we will provide you with detailed information on some of the most common mobile scams related to cryptocurrency and how you can easily avoid them with basic knowledge. No matter how smart your mobile phone or computer might be, you are always vulnerable to crypto scams.
Before getting into the most common crypto scams on mobile phones, let’s talk about a few channels scammers might use to approach you.
If you use a specific crypto platform to manage your bitcoin, scammers might produce a fake application which looks exactly like the real one you use on a daily basis. The fraudsters even usually succeed in uploading their fake application to the App Store, and novice crypto investors end up installing them on their devices.
Once you mistakenly install a fake app, it will help the scammers in stealing your personal data and will provide them with access to your crypto wallet. This way, your own mobile phone can be used by scammers to steal your cryptocurrency.
If you have a smartphone, you definitely use a Wi-Fi connection to access the internet on a daily basis. Your Wi-Fi network can be used to hack your mobile phone easily. For example, whenever you use a public Wi-Fi connection, you are at risk of getting your mobile phone hacked and getting your crypto stolen.
So, never connect your device to an insecure Wi-Fi connection, especially if you manage your crypto or any other financial application through your mobile phone.
If you share your mobile phone with a friend or a family member, you need to be careful about your crypto application. For example, if you hand over your mobile phone to a stranger, they might get direct access to your wallet and steal all of your crypto in the blink of an eye. Once a scammer gets access to your mobile phone, it will only take them a few minutes to steal all of your assets.
So, be careful about whom you share your smartphone with.
Scammers can also send you a fishy link in the hopes that you’ll click on the link to open it. Once you open the link, any type of malware can be installed on your smartphone. This malware or virus can be used to steal cryptocurrency from you.
Usually, these links are sent to you through emails and WhatsApp messages. So, never click any link sent by an unknown person. This will help you stay away from viruses and malware.
Social Media Platforms
Almost every person with a smartphone these days uses one or multiple social media platforms. Any hacker can gain access to lots of personal information about you through your social media account. They can also send you fishy links and messages through these platforms.
Moreover, many fake influencers have triggered investors into Ponzi schemes and rugpull schemes. This is another way of scamming crypto investors and stealing their life savings.
Cryptocurrency Scams on Mobile Phones
Let’s discuss a few common crypto scams you might come across in the near future if you use your smartphone to manage your crypto assets. Knowing about these scams will definitely help you stay prepared to avoid getting scammed whenever you cross your ways with a scammer.
There are lots of different types of fake applications and cryptocurrency wallets out there. Fake wallets, in particular, are used by scammers to obtain your personal email and password in order to gain access to your original crypto wallet.
Fake wallet apps can also provide you with a few important details which are public on the blockchain. This gives you an impression that your cryptocurrency is safely deposited in your wallet. However, any funds you receive in the public address provided by a fake wallet won’t be accessible to you.
The trend of these fake wallets is continuously increasing, and many crypto investors have fallen prey to this scam. So, here are a few important steps you can take to keep yourself safe from fake wallet applications.
- Whenever you log into your wallet app, make sure that a new public address is generated and that you have all the private keys you need to gain access to your cryptocurrency. An original crypto wallet really easily allows you to copy and paste the public keys into your device. Moreover, you shouldn’t make sure that the whole process of key generation is not compromised. That is why you should always use a reputable application to manage your cryptocurrency, no matter what type of device you might be using.
- You should always double-check the public address and see if you can access it before depositing any amount of crypto in it. You should always disconnect your computer before checking if the public keys are compromised or not.
Just like fake crypto wallets, fake exchanges have also become a common thing. Hackers often successfully copy popular crypto exchanges and even succeed in getting their applications listed on the App Store. This way, any person who downloads the fake exchange application and uses it to deposit money into their crypto wallet loses all of their assets. So, you should always use two-factor authentication before using your Gmail account in any application.
Here are a few important steps you can take to avoid such a situation.
- Always enable two-factor authentication on your Gmail account. This makes it very hard for scammers to go through all the security and gain access to your crypto wallet. However, keep in mind that it is not 100% secure either.
- Before downloading any exchange application from the play store, see if the developer has provided proper email and contact information. You should also do a little more research and see whether the developer is actually related to the cryptocurrency exchange in question or not.
- The best way to download an exchange application is through the official website of that crypto exchange. First of all, you should make sure that they have a mobile phone application. If they do, you should click the link provided on their website, which will lead you to the actual application on the play store.
- If you are going to download a popular cryptocurrency exchange application, the number of its downloads should be in millions or at least hundreds of thousands. So, I always check the number of downloads on any application you are going to download as this will help you keep away from notorious fake applications.
- When downloading from the official play store or App Store, do check the ratings and reviews of the crypto application as well. It is very likely that people who have been scammed by them have left bad reviews on their play store account. However, you should avoid fake reviews as well by checking if the application has a fair share of bad reviews or not. A crypto application with perfect ratings and reviews should also be treated as a red flag.
Due to the anonymous nature of crypto transactions, it is a hot favourite of cover criminals around the globe. Cryptojacking is a process in which scammers trick smartphone users into downloading certain applications on their devices.
Although the application serves some purpose on the device, it also runs crypto mining scripts quietly in the background.
This way, scammers take advantage of the internet connection, battery, and computing power of your mobile phone to mine the crypto of their choice. This has become very common these days as mobile phones are becoming stronger with every passing day. These applications can also be replaced by fake web browsers.
Moreover, there are certain cryptojacking apps which are advertised as mobile-based crypto miners. However, once you start using the mining app, you realize that all of the earnings are being transferred to the developer.
The crypto mining scripts have become so sophisticated and light that an average mobile user doesn’t even notice the difference.
While cryptojacking paves the way for recurring income for the hacker, it degrades your mobile device and drains the battery faster. These apps can also be used as tools to install more malware on your device.
Here are a few steps to avoid situations like these.
- Only use the official Playstore on your device to install every application. Downloading pirated applications directly from the internet increases your chances of installing crypto mining scripts and running them on your device. On the other hand, official stores always scan every file before letting it install on your mobile. This is usually enough to prevent cryptojacking.
- Try downloading a good mobile antivirus software, and update it regularly to keep the fishy scripts away.
- Always download and install the latest security updates for your mobile to scan for the latest viruses and fake apps.
- Look out for excessive battery drainage on your device and see if your mobile has started to overheat as well. If you’re encountering this problem, go to settings and see which apps are eating the most of your battery life, and uninstall the unnecessary apps. Also, be choosy when you grant background running permission to every app.
- Always use trusted web browsers which come with built-in protection from cryptojacking. This will keep you safe from hacking attempts online as well.
Clipping apps are the ones which take the address you copy on your mobile’s clipboard and replace it with an address provided by the hacker. Since crypto wallet addresses are long and complex, you won’t even realize the trick unless you’ve been scammed.
Try these tips to keep away from such frauds.
- Instead of rechecking just a few portions of the address you copied, recheck the entire address. That’s because some clipper apps are built in such a way that they replace the copied address with a seemingly similar address.
- You should always manually check the recipient’s address multiple times just because crypto transactions are irreversible. So, whether or not you care about clipper apps, you should always double-check the receiver’s address.
One of the most common ways scammers use to gain access to your mobile device is through an unprotected WiFi connection.
Scammers especially target mobiles with crypto wallets installed on them. Public WiFi connection points are the most insecure ones, and you should always connect to one with precautions.
If you carelessly connect to public WiFi, a scammer might gain access to your mobile and might also steal crypto directly from your mobile phone. So, always be careful when connecting to an open WiFi access point.
SIM Card Swapping
SIM card swapping scam is exactly what it sounds like. In this crypto theft technique, a scammer gains access to your contact number. This way, they gain your personal details through social engineering and use them to trick your SIM card provider into issuing them a new SIM card.
A crypto investor in the US lost around $20 million worth of crypto after falling prey to this scam.
This scam works so well because the SIM card helps the scammers in bypassing any 2-factor authentication process which requires your SIM card. This makes it very easy for scammers to gain access to your crypto wallet and steal your crypto assets.
Advanced techniques also allow criminals to monitor all the messages you receive on your phone. This way, they can easily copy the pin code sent to you during the 2FA authentication process.
These attacks are usually untraceable since they don’t involve you installing any application or clicking on a link.
You can prevent this by using Google Authenticator for 2FA and by being careful while sharing your personal information on social media.
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