The Bitcoin Scam List 2022 (and How to Avoid Them)

credit card with a hook through it

Crypto scammers are nothing if not resourceful, and keeping up with the latest crypto scam has become a bit of an arms race. Just when you think you’re clued up on the latest con, another one is sure to pop up.

A few years ago the scam de jour involved Airbnb, with unsuspecting victims being fooled into thinking they could pay for their rental with cryptocurrency (usually Bitcoin). They couldn’t, as some found to their cost. Although Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has said paying with crypto is something they’re considering, it hasn’t been implemented yet.

More recently, Instagram Bitcoin scams have been doing the rounds. With this con, hackers take over someone’s Instagram account and try to trick their followers into investing in what is, inevitably, a crypto scam.

And Facebook hasn’t escaped the crypto scammers either. Fake Facebook pages, purporting to be belonging to genuine crypto exchanges, are appearing on the social media site offering bonus amounts of crypto to those who send a set number of BTC, ETH or other cryptocurrency. 

Even dating apps aren’t safe. Last year more than $139 million in cryptocurrency was lost to crypto scams, with the con artists using the usual romance fraudster tricks. Now, though, they’re stealing Bitcoin as well as traditional currencies.

The modus operandi of the fraudster may change, but the goal of these cryptocurrency scams is the same: to steal from you, whether it’s your crypto or your money. The Bitcoin scammer’s list of tactics is a long one, and it’s always getting longer.

Crypto scammers want your wallet

Your Bitcoin wallet is probably worth a decent amount of money. Despite the price fluctuations, Bitcoin’s value has increased dramatically in recent years, rising from $900 in 2016 to an all-time high of nearly $69,000 in 2021.

That kind of money attracts all types: the investors, the speculators (yep, they’re different), the modestly curious and, sadly, the thieves. It turns out there are a lot of people out there who want Bitcoin, many of whom would be very happy to take yours.

Their problem is that cryptocurrency is actually a pretty secure platform. Bitcoins can’t be copied (that’s their genius) and they’re almost impossible to fake. Without your private key or a computing rig to rival the NSA’s most fevered dreams, stealing Bitcoin directly is not really something a hacker can do.

So instead crypto thieves work hard to try and convince you to accidentally hand them over. Con artists will use all sorts of dirty tricks to get you to give them your cryptocurrency, often without even realising you’ve done so. That’s the art of the crypto hack.

Unfortunately, many of the same features that make Bitcoin so secure, also make it an excellent target for these crypto scammers. 

Once transferred, there’s little (if anything) someone can do to recover the crypto stolen from them.

Coins can move anonymously, shifting not to a person but to an unverified wallet backed up only by a meaningless email address. (A reason why we here at xcoins.com verify all our users to help prevent this.) 

Coins can cross borders with ease, meaning that there’s not a whole lot the authorities can do to chase down the stolen crypto.

Physical leather wallet with Bitcoin and Ethereum coins inside it.

Bitcoin was designed as digital cash, so think of it like handing someone a $20 bill. Once in their wallet, it’s as good as gone. The same holds true with Bitcoin.

This is one of the reasons we’ve worked so hard to build xcoins.com into a secure platform. We want you to be able to focus on your Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency investing, not worry about crypto scams. Sadly, that isn’t always true about the rest of the web.

So we’ve put together our Bitcoin scammer list 2022 to help you identify the most common cryptocurrency scams. Even just a little bit of vigilance can help keep your hard-earned money where it belongs.

Crypto scam one: phishing

This one is probably the biggest, nastiest crypto scam out there right now by sheer numbers. Phishing attacks have stolen millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency over the last few years. Con artists love phishing because it’s low-cost, low-maintenance and brutally effective.

A phishing attack is essentially nothing more than a message that tries to trick you into:

  • Visiting a malicious website
  • Giving away your personal information
  • Downloading malware
  • Some combination of the above

Traditionally they’ve often been in the form of a Bitcoin email scam, but clever hackers have started to rely more and more on social media because of the trust built into that system. (When your friend shares something, it immediately has more currency than a random email, as those behind the Instagram Bitcoin scams found.)

In any case, the message is built to look and feel like it came from a trustworthy source, such as a cryptocurrency exchange or a web wallet. They’ll steal the logos, branding, and will probably even spoof the email address, all to make you think it’s legit.

Then comes the hook. Your account has been hacked, click here to verify your login details! Or perhaps they’re issuing a new ICO (Initial Coin Offering), and are offering an airdrop to people who respond right away. Whatever the message, the aim of the crypto hack is to get you to hand over your login credentials so they can swoop in and clean you out. More sophisticated hackers drop malware on your computer, stealing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies you own without even lifting a finger.

How to stop it:

Never click the links.

There are a lot of ways to prevent phishing crypto scams, including being wary of overly-generous offers, and always having your guard up around unsolicited contacts. The biggest one, though, is simple: never, ever click the link. Not in your email, texts, social media posts, DMs, nowhere.

Crypto scam two: the fake ICO

The Internet is riddled with false promises and get-rich-quick ICO schemes. Most are lies.

In a fake ICO scam, the con artist launches a website promising the next big blockchain technology. It will come with buzzwords, lots of graphics, pie-in-the-sky ideas, and an overall vibe designed to appeal to cryptocurrency evangelism.

The goal is to convince buyers that this is their chance to get in at the ground floor of something that will make them stinking rich. The crypto scammers are helped by the fact that people who were early adopters of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum did, in fact, end up stinking rich.

This has become so common that the US Securities and Exchange Commission set up a website to help teach people what an ICO scam typically looks like.

So, what does the ICO scam look like? Well, it’s pretty simple. Their ICO doesn’t accept cash or altcoins. You can only buy into their once-in-a-lifetime offer with Bitcoin or Ethereum. You do just that, then you sit back and wait for your new tokens to roll in. And you wait… and you wait… and then their website mysteriously goes offline. It’s the 21st Century equivalent of selling the Brooklyn Bridge, and it’s, unfortunately, a very effective crypto scam.

Graphic of ICO with Bitcoin sign and traditional currencies.
Is it the next big thing, or the latest ICO scam?

How to stop it:

Research, research, and more research. One of the biggest liabilities to cryptocurrency investing is that many people approach this field far too casually, lured in by promises of easy money pulled out of thin air. 

The ICO scam relies on that, so avoid it. Take your time and read up thoroughly before investing in anything. If the offer is too good to be true, it probably is. If it’s expiring fast, they probably don’t want you to have enough time to think things through. So slow down and read up on every investment before you make it.

Crypto scam three: the fake bitcoin exchange/wallet

Lastly on our Bitcoin scammer list is the fake Bitcoin exchange/wallet. This crypto scam generally takes on one of two forms.

Sometimes a con artist will set up a website that looks like a genuine exchange or cryptocurrency wallet. It will have logos, graphics, all it needs to look just like the real thing. These crypto scammers want you to log in and create an account with them, pretending to offer all the services of a regular site. In fact, they’ll sometimes sweeten the pot with great introductory offers. 

Other times the website will mimic an existing service, stealing all of the digital assets from that site in order to create an exact duplicate that lives at a very similar address. Often those crypto scammers are waiting for users to make a typo, hoping they’ll log into the fake website without ever realising that something’s gone wrong.

Wnat to konw how esay tihs it is to msis taht tpyo? Ask yuorslef how many wrods in the lsat few snetnces jmuped out at you as missspleled or ohterwsie worng. Our eyes glance over individual letters as long as they are generally right and the first and last are intact. So it’s very easy to miss a jumbled up URL.

In both cases, the goal is to trick you into falling for a crypto scam. 

The jaws of this particular trap spring shut in a few ways. First, they want to sell you air. On their exchange, you can do business, purchasing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as you would anywhere else. The catch is that those purchases never seem to arrive. In fact, if you used your banking information to buy some tokens, you may find that account cleaned out entirely.

For the websites built to mimic the look and feel of legitimate sites, just like a phishing scam, the crypto hack is about getting your login information. Quickly, the crypto scammers will bounce over to the real thing and log in with stolen credentials, pretending to be you as they get to work stealing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies belonging to you.

Of course, for the fake wallets, they want one thing: the private keys to your cryptocurrency.

How to stop it:

Check your URLs and trade conservatively. Take care with each address to make sure it begins with HTTPS, not just HTTP. To avoid falling victim to a crypto hack or scam, make absolutely sure that you got where you intended to go before entering any login information. Even our industry-leading security can’t help you at xcions.com. (See what we did there?)

Finally, be careful about using any site you haven’t heard of before. There’s nothing wrong with a new cryptocurrency service getting itself started, but be very careful before handing over control of your money. Look them up and do some due diligence. It will pay off in the end.

For all its revolutionary technology, con artists are stealing Bitcoin as easily as they steal money in real life. Don’t let your guard down just because Bitcoin invented a terrific new security system.

Yesterday it was the Bitcoin email scam. Today, the popular crypto swindles include dating apps scams and the Instagram Bitcoin scams. And there’ll be another one along tomorrow, you can be sure of that.

If someone is running a charity, make sure your money will actually get to those recipients in need. If they’re promising a business venture with guaranteed returns, remember that’s what Bernie Madoff’s clients heard too.

Take care, think your trades through, and you’ll be just fine.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the most common Bitcoin and crypto scams?

There are several types of crypto scams out there, and new ones are appearing all the time.

The most common include phishing scams, in which fraudsters use a variety of methods to get hold of your login details or other sensitive information; ICO scams, whereby you’re encouraged to invest in what turns out to be a fake blockchain technology; and fake Bitcoin exchanges/wallets, set up simply to steal your crypto and/or your money.

How can I avoid Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency scams?

The most effective thing you can do is to be vigilant and cautious. Always do your research, never click on unknown links, and make sure the URL to that legitimate site is correct.

Be wary of those offering giveaways or too-good-to-be-true investment deals, and take the steps necessary to protect your private key and login information (e.g. two-factor authentication).

Are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin safe?

Like any investment, you must do your due diligence before putting your money into cryptocurrency.

Given the already inherent risks of legitimate cryptocurrency investing (market volatility), the last thing you want is to fall victim to a crypto scam. To keep your investment as safe as possible, always use a reputable crypto exchange like xcoins.com.