Cryptocurrency: Part I/II; Scams & How To Avoid Them

How to Avoid Cryptocurrency Scams article image.

In recent years, we’ve experienced a sharp rise in demand for a) cryptocurrency fraud investigations and, separately, b) their identification in asset searches and tracing for criminal, civil and regulatory cases. In our two-part series on cryptocurrency scams and asset identification, we begin today with a look into cryptocurrency scams; how they work and how to avoid being a victim of this type fraud/theft.

Three of the top cyrptocurrency scams from our friends at Coinsutra:

1. Fraudulent ICOs

The most common way to pull off a scam is to fabricate a fake ICO (Initial Coin Offering), create marketing hype and persuade people to buy.

That is because ICOs are a great and innovative way to kickstart a company and that is the aspect that is misused.

Ethereum has become the breeding ground for these fraudulent ICOs but Ethereum is not directly responsible for it as it is an open-source project.

Instead, it is the ignorance of newbie investors who dream of 100x gains in a matter of weeks by just HODLing worthless ICO tokens.

Usual signs of fraud ICOs or Token Sales:

Copied whitepaper

Half team anonymous

Unusual hurry in execution

Mismatch of written & said words

Ignoring hard questions

No strong reasons for the token economy

No roadmap

2. Shady Exchanges

The second most common form of scam that you will come across would be a ‘shady exchange’. The exchanges that sprang up over-night and started bragging. One needs to be very careful with such exchanges because once you trust them and deposit your coins there, you have no way to get it back if the intentions of that exchange are not right.

Also, some exchanges that start well can run away with your money any time because they fail to scale and innovate to stay relevant in the market.

Some of these platforms as reported by Bitcoin.com are:

01crypto, Btc-cap, Capital-coins, Coinquick, Cryptavenir, Crypto-banque, Crypto-infos, Cryptos.solutions, Cryptos-currency, Ether-invest, Eurocryptopro, Finance-mag, Gme-crypto, Gmtcrypto, Good-crypto, Mycrypto24, Nettocrypto, Patrimoinecrypto, and Ydconsultant.

3. Fake Wallets

With the launch of Bitcoin, many fake android wallets have also been launched on the Play store. That’s why it is a big NO from us to pick any wallet randomly from the Play store because there are chances that it will be fraudulent and you may end up losing your money. And, even though Apple app store is touted as secure, there are many fake apps out there.  

Reporting CryptoCrime:

If you’ve fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam, you can report it to the FTCCommodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

You may also want to report the scam to the cryptocurrency platform used in the scheme. If you’re approached on a messaging or social media platform, you may also report the person to a group administrator who can ban the user or warn others about the scam.

The bottom line in dealing with cryptocurrency is to do your due diligence. Crooks often have an initial advantage as crime is a proactive action, especially in digital fraud- given the ability to now transfer large financial assets in a matter of seconds/minutes.

Look to next week’s Beacon Bulletin for Part II of this series: Cryptocurrency Asset Investigations.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware; in the real and digital worlds

As always, stay safe.

Can Someone Hack Your Passport? RFID Wallets and More.

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As of now, most credit cards and debit cards issued within the past decade have RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) technology embedded in them. All US passports issued since August, 2007 and later have RFID chips that track your data and photo. RFID chips are a convenient way to store and read data – instead of having to swipe your card through a reader, you can simply wave your card in front of an RFID scanner without even taking it out of your wallet.  Such comfort!

Unfortunately, RFID technology used to track sensitive data in many of today’s portable identifiers (e.g. cards) can be easily scanned without you ever knowing.

How can RFID-hacking occur and how to protect your RFID-chipped documents when traveling:

What is RFID technology?

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification. The acronym refers to small electronic devices that consist of a small chip and an antenna. 

The RFID device serves the same purpose as a bar code or a magnetic strip on the back of a credit card or ATM card; it provides a unique identifier for that object. And, just as a bar code or magnetic strip must be scanned to get the information, the RFID device must be scanned to retrieve the identifying information.

RFID Works Better Than Barcodes

A significant advantage of RFID over barcodes is that the RFID device does not need to be positioned precisely relative to the scanner. We’re all familiar with the difficulty that store checkout clerks sometimes have in ensuring that a barcode can be read. And obviously, credit cards and ATM cards must be swiped through a special reader.

In contrast, RFID devices will work within a few feet (up to 20 feet for high-frequency devices) of the scanner. For example, you could just put all of your groceries or purchases in a bag, and set the bag on the scanner. It would be able to query all of the RFID devices and total your purchase immediately.

 

It’s a scary thought to entertain and if it bothers you, keep reading to find out what you can do about it.

How can you stay safe against hacked RFID chips?

Unfortunately, the danger is that someone could build a counterfeit reader – which wouldn’t be too difficult for anyone who is experienced in that field – and pick up your RFID information without your consent or even knowledge. Counterfeit card readers existed before RFID, but you were required to physically swipe your card through a slot; counterfeit RFID readers can pull or delete data without so much as you walking by.

On the market now are RFID-blocking sleeves, pouches, wallets and other such personal item carriers. A proper RFID blocker will utilize something called a “Faraday cage” (a grounded metal screen surrounding a piece of equipment to exclude electrostatic and electromagnetic influences) and the specification you want to look for is “electromagnetically opaque”. These RFID blockers will prevent illegitimate reading of your RFID-embedded objects.

Not all RFID-blocking wallets are made equal; some are more effective than others. In addition, even the most effective RFID-blocking wallets can fail, whether due to wear and tear or user error. These products will help keep you safe, nonetheless, exercise caution and common sense when traveling.

 

At Corporate Travel Safety, you can purchase RFID-reader blocking items such as wallets, full-sized/mini document holders, ladies’ clutches and handbags, neck holders, inside front pocket sleeves, etc.  We’ve bought and used several of their products and have for years with no negative incidents to date.

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BNI Operatives: Situationally Aware.

As always, stay safe.