Fake Air Drops and Other Scams

Due to the nature of the blockchain needing little identifying information to add transactions, the crypto space can have an uncontrolled wild west aspect to it, enabling malicious actors to create coins, devise poorly written white papers, manipulate markets, exaggerate or lie about founders or investors – all in an effort to get a few people to throw funds at them, only to eventually pull all their value out and disappear.

Max Maher has a great video with a complimentary checklist to use while researching crypto companies to invest in:

Real or Scam?

Air Drops: An event to promote new projects, gain attention and add new user base and activity by (commonly) offering you significantly more value in return for using their product, usually by sending them coin value.

While Air Drops by nature are not a scam, be very aware, there are many phony airdrops, particularly on YouTube. Typically, you will see a video from a legitimate crypto technical creator surrounded by scam urls to send coins, promising a return of double or more of value. Video chat will be disabled, and the “watching now” numbers are usually in the tens of thousands. These are fake. Using a whois check usually reveals all personal information related to the domain is redacted and may originate in Russia.

Dust Scam: Malicious activity where a person deliberately sends units of digital coins to the wallet of an unsuspecting person in other to steal their privacy. A suspicious inflow of coins into the digital wallet could grant a hacker access through some malicious programs in other to de-anonymize the wallet owner or the wallet provider

Rug Pull: Scammers portraying as a promising project that attracts users. When liquidity flows into the project and the price grows, developers then pull all the liquidity they can, crushing the capital of those left.

Suspicious YouTube Live Streams

Below is an example of a scam YouTube video. It usually contains a legitimate interview with a heavy hitter from the crypto ecosystem (in this case Vitalik Buterin, the inventor of Ethereum) – but it is surrounded with info regarding an Air Drop that doesn’t exist. If you send coin to that wallet, consider it gone.

An impressive 46k watching this live stream, hmmm… But when you look at the channel video list, you see hundreds of Indian recipe videos? A clear indication of a malicious player.

Suspicious YouTube Comments

In general you will see many youtube comments under videos from legitimate creators, brimming with spam, suggestions on who to follow, coins to buy, and all sorts of garbage. But similar to the “Nigerian prince” email scams of yesteryear, people need to mentally fortify themselves, and quickly determine suspicious activities.

The trick I see most often is 4 lines of innocuous YouTube comment, which triggers the “read more” section, when, if opened, you finally get the bait – an industry though leaders’ name that you should seek.

These can often be followed by several reply comments from other “people” in agreement with the original post. There are so many red flags here, it’s hard to keep track.

Anyway, keeps your eyes open, and don’t send coin to anyone ever. 😉