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15 Ways Criminals Can Steal Your Bitcoins & Cryptocurrencies

Filed under Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency has become quite a pompous buzzword last year and the trend is not going to stop in 2018 either. Digital money owes much of its hype and popularity to Bitcoin, a currency that currently represents almost 60% of an entire market.

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However, the price of Bitcoin doesn’t only attract business people around the globe but also criminals who are trying to grab their own portions of the most valuable digital currency. They are constantly inventing new mechanisms to steal Bitcoins and you should be aware of this threat in order to prevent it. In this article, we will show you 15 ways criminals can steal your Bitcoins.

Top 15 Bitcoin Scam Mechanisms

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The number of Bitcoin scam schemes increased drastically in the last two years. For this reason, we decided to reveal 15 most common ways IT crooks can take your hard-earned Bitcoins. Let’s take a closer look!

1. Ransomware

Ransomware has always been the hackers’ gold mine. Most of them still want to get real money through Ransomware but the number of those who demand Bitcoins is rising steadily. The principle is simple – hackers send you a virus to encrypt your files. After that, they demand you to pay a certain amount of Bitcoins unless you want to have the documents locked forever. Essentially, Ransomware enabled hackers to steal millions of dollars in Bitcoin.

2. Fake wallets

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Criminals use fake electronic wallets to rob users who don’t pay attention to the wallet origin. This tool is created so as to resemble a legit wallet. Hackers usually take a wide-known logo and a similar name to cover the leads and wait for the less-experienced Bitcoin owners to fall into their trap. Once you’ve downloaded such app, you can say goodbye to your digital coins.

3. Scam ICO Campaigns

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Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is where it all begins for new cryptocurrencies. It’s a crowdsales procedure that allows developers to collect money and continue developing their projects. Since digital currencies are becoming more and more popular, cyber criminals launch scam ICO campaigns to steal your Bitcoins. Therefore, you have to do the homework prior to making concrete moves. Don’t fall for catchy visuals or fancy motto. Instead, you should check project documentation and make sure there are no suspicious details.

4. Hacking Bitcoin Mining Pools

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Hacking Bitcoin mining pools was one of the first techniques used to steal this cryptocurrency. Skilled hackers could infiltrate your ISP infrastructure and use your own machines to mine Bitcoins for them. They were able to exploit all of your computing power, while you weren’t even aware of this fact until the job was finished.

5. Copy Private Keys

Every owner of Bitcoin has his own cryptographic key and uses it to access his digital wealth. This key is nothing more than the string of symbols – letters and numbers – which constitute your personal Bitcoin password. Attackers usually don’t target individual users but websites which store thousands of private keys. In most cases, hackers actually get some help from inside the database staff.

6. Email Phishing

Phishing is another well-known but surprisingly efficient Bitcoin stealing method. Criminals send thousands of emails to owners of this cryptocurrency and wait for someone to reveal private financial data. As always, online robbers utilize email addresses that sound credible and familiar. Naive users catch the hook and lose their Bitcoins forever.

7. Stealing Email Passwords

Sometimes all hackers need is your email password to enter your inbox and outbox. They get to scan your emails thoroughly and find potential information about the Bitcoin stocks. In this case, you don’t even have to reveal sensitive information as hackers will find it out on their own.

8. Fake Websites

Fake websites function almost identically as email phishing. The only difference is that hackers don’t use fraudulent email messages. Instead, they use web pages that really look like the original but harm you in the end. Once you visit such website, the program will ask you for personal information and eventually access your Bitcoin database. The only way to avoid this is to be extra careful while revealing any kind of sensitive data.

9. Fake Bitcoin Casinos

A lot of people love Bitcoin casinos, mostly because this type of entertainment provides them with full anonymity. However, be aware that the number of fake Bitcoin casino websites is growing rapidly. At first, fake casinos will attract many players. Once they’ve reached the desired amount of Bitcoins, they terminate all operations and keep your coins for themselves.

10. Pyramid Schemes

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You’ve probably heard of Ponzi or pyramid schemes before but this type of scam is shifting from real-life banking to digital currencies, using Bitcoin as its target. People who initiate pyramid schemes convince investors to spend Bitcoins on their project and attract even more investors this way. New investors repay initial investments but the wheel has to stop at one point, leaving the vast majority of users without their digital fortune.

11. Fake Cryptocurrencies

Developing a brand new cryptocurrency is extremely demanding as it takes companies a full team of experienced experts. You have to check the credibility of team members and understand how they work before investing in fresh projects. It’s pretty much the same as the pyramid scheme because there is no real value behind fake cryptocurrencies, just phony figures to fool investors. OneCoin is the most famous fake cryptocurrency to date.

12. Steal from Online Stores

Online stores follow financial trends and part of them was eager enough to accept Bitcoin as an official payment method. Some criminals attack these stores and steal their files and databases. Doing so, they adjust the settings and divert Bitcoins to their own wallets instead of the retailers’.

13. Steal from Developers

Some projects fail not because they were planned to scam investors but because developers themselves don’t pay attention to potential security breaches. If the project is having internal shortcomings (like poor antivirus protection or even a simple source code typing mistake), hackers could detect this flaw and use it to steal Bitcoins that you invested in this campaign.

14. P2P Exchange Scams

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Peer-to-peer exchanges are not a novelty in Bitcoin trading but it’s just another opportunity for criminals to steal your money. They can trick you using hacked PayPal accounts or stolen credit cards while conducting a P2P exchange. They can even use their own credit card and dispute the transaction, leaving you with no money or Bitcoins left.

15. Bitcoin ATM frauds

The number of Bitcoin ATMs reached almost 1.6 thousand in late 2017. It’s still not a huge figure but it’s more than enough for scammers who want to rip you off. They use standard ATM-related stealing tactics and the only thing that really differs, in this case, is that they take away your Bitcoins instead of cash.

Conclusion

Bitcoin transactions can bring you a fortune but this cryptocurrency can also make you miserable in case you neglect various security threats it brings. In this article, we showed you 15 ways criminals can steal your Bitcoins. Bear our explanations in mind and don’t hesitate to write a comment if you have other valuable suggestions for our readers.

Guest Author: Cathy Baylis

Many years spent coaching people in career development and progression and grooming people for leadership roles, Cathy Baylis now works with students at Assignment Masters doing multi-discipline degrees, giving assignment help and guidance.

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