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Ask CryptoVantage: What is the Most Common Bitcoin Giveaway Scam?

Most bitcoin giveaway scams come in the form of celebrity impersonation. The scammer pretends to be a celebrity and asks you to send them bitcoin, telling you that you will receive more bitcoin in return. Anytime someone asks you to send them bitcoin, you should be skeptical.

In this article, we cover what celebrity impersonation scams look like, talk about the most famous example of one, and share some tips about how to avoid falling victim to this type of scam.

Scams are still rife in cryptocurrency

Celebrity Impersonation

Scammers often try to impersonate famous people, usually on social media, by changing their name and profile picture to be indistinguishable from the real person. They do this because people tend to trust celebrity names, and do not question what they are being asked to do.

The scammer claims that they will give free bitcoin to anyone that sends bitcoin to a certain address. Because famous people often do giveaways on social media, this type of scam can be believable. People who are unfamiliar with these scams can easily fall for them.

The Infamous Twitter Hack

In July 2020, a hacker managed to gain administrative access to Twitter’s servers. This allowed the hacker to post content under anyone’s Twitter account. The hacker then posted on many famous people’s accounts claiming to be doing a bitcoin giveaway. Even some of the most cautious people fell for this scam because legitimate, verified Twitter accounts appeared to be participating.

For example, this scam included established cryptocurrency companies such as Coinbase, CoinDesk, and Binance. It also included the accounts of celebrities such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. The scammer got over $100,000 USD before the scam was identified and Twitter was able to put a stop to it.

Avoiding Bitcoin Giveaway Scams

The best way to avoid any kind of bitcoin scam is to move slowly and double check everything when you are doing anything related to bitcoin — from installing software, to getting your wallet set up, to making a transaction. Make sure you do these things slowly and deliberately so that you will notice any red flags.

If someone is claiming to be giving away bitcoin, you should ask yourself why they would require that you send them some first. An easy way to spot a bitcoin giveaway scam is to triple check the user’s account name to see if it is different from the real account name.

Often scammers will use subtle tricks such as replacing a lowercase “L” for an uppercase “i” to create a username that looks the same but is actually different. However, the Twitter hack shows that even if the real account is asking you to send bitcoin as part of a giveaway, it is almost certainly a scam. Whenever someone is asking you to send them bitcoin as part of a giveaway you should assume it is a scam.

Key Takeaways 

  • Bitcoin giveaway scams usually involve celebrity impersonation, with the “celebrity” asking you to send them bitcoin in return for more bitcoin.
  • Anyone (including celebrities) asking you to send them bitcoin as part of a giveaway is almost certainly trying to scam you.
  • You can protect yourself against most types of bitcoin scams by moving slowly and deliberately and thinking adversarially whenever you deal with bitcoin.
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CryptoVantage Author Billy Garrison

About the Author

Billy Garrison

Billy Garrison focuses his research and writing on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. He is interested in the technical details that allow these technologies to survive and grow without the need for a central authority. Billy also loves helping people learn about Bitcoin which led him to start the Halifax Bitcoin Meetup.

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