Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), and now Dogecoin (DOGE) -- thanks to a few tweets by Elon Musk -- have all come onto the radar of would-be traders, but as with every investment, scam artists are seeking means to cash in.
Cryptocurrency is certainly not immune to scams or other threats. Cryptocurrency exchanges hit with cyberattacks can end up losing trader funds; exit scams still occur, and regulators are constantly battling fraud.
We're unlikely to see any end of crypto-related scams anytime soon, and in a new warning posted by Kaspersky, a new scheme is now targeting users of Discord.
Discord is a messaging and voice chat service that caters to an estimated 300 million users, having branched out from a gamer-heavy community to general use for clubs and for friends to stay in touch.
According to Kaspersky researcher Mikhail Sytnik, scam artists are now entering Discord servers and are sending private messages to users that appear to be from new, up-and-coming cryptocurrency exchanges.
As new projects and ones that want to "support traders in difficult times," these 'exchanges' try to attract users with promises of free cryptocurrency. And, of course, the recipient is the lucky one chosen for free BTC or ETH.
Naturally, such a scam doesn't attempt to attract users with a paltry offering; instead, thousands of dollars' worth of cryptocurrency is being awarded. Lucky you.
Each message contains instructions and a code for accepting the "gift," Kasperksy notes, as well as a link to register on the fake exchange.
"The link opens a site that looks like a cryptocurrency exchange, with an adaptive layout, savvy design, and the exchange rate info, charts, order books, and trading history that cryptocurrency traders would expect to see on a trading platform," the researchers say. "Visitors will also find technical support and several language options. Someone clearly went to a lot of trouble to make the site look legit."
As cryptocurrency wallets are now a top target for threat actors, the websites will also offer "two-factor authentication" and "phishing protection" options to try and appear legitimate.
Victims going through the registration process are then lured to provide a substantial personal profile, including contact details, photo ID, a selfie, and a signature.
While these checks are now common on legitimate cryptocurrency trading posts, this information can be packaged up and sold to other cybercriminals, or could potentially be used in identity theft.
In the final step of this particular scheme, once the prize 'code' is submitted and accepted, the scammers require a small "top-up" in either BTC, ETH, or USD to process the gift. Should a victim hand over their cash, of course, it's gone for good.
Fake exchanges are only one attack vector used by scam artists in the cryptocurrency sector -- Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), too, are constantly abused.
In January, a resident of San Francisco was jailed for six months after defrauding investors of cryptocurrency worth an estimated $20 million by pretending to be an ICO consultant. He has been ordered to pay $4.4 million in restitution.