Scammers raked-in $24 million in bitcoin during the first six months of 2020, according to a new report from crypto monitoring service Whale Alert.
For example, one particularly successful scam made over $130,000 in a day “with nothing more than a one page website, a bitcoin address and a decent amount of Youtube advertising.”
Another pocketed more than $1.5 million over six months by promoting a fake digital assets exchange with an “amateurish website riddled with spelling errors.”
Whale Alert says it collected and analyzed “hundreds of thousands” of data from reports, websites and bitcoin addresses using their new blockchain crime reporting, tracking and analysis tool, Scam Alert.
The outfit, famous for tracking large-scale bitcoin transactions, concluded that “crypto crime pays. A lot.” And that’s largely because the business is risk-free, meaning perpetrators have an extremely low chance of getting caught.
According to the report, scammers made off with $38 million worth of BTC in the last four years, excluding Ponzi schemes. By the end of 2020, Whale Alert estimates that scammers will make $50 million in annual revenue – a 2,000% increase since 2017.
There are dozens of different types of scams such as sextortions, fake exchanges, fake initial coin offerings, bitcoin recovery and video scams. But the most prominent type of scam at the moment is the giveaway, said Whale Alert.
The giveaway scam uses the identities of celebrities like Elon Musk or a well known exchange to lure people into sending their bitcoin, with help from Youtube advertising. Such schemes can net between a few thousand and $300,000 “depending on the skill and effort put in by the scammers.”
Whale Alert said the improved methodology suggests that “entire professional teams” may be behind some of the most successful of the scams.
“One thing is very clear: whatever is being done right now to stop these criminals is not enough and if we don’t act as a community, the reputation of blockchain might not be able to recover in the long run,” it warned.
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