Scammers pretending to be Elon Musk managed to steal large sums of money from investors (Getty)
Was stolen from cryptocurrency investors by fraudsters impersonating Tesla CEO Elon Musk, says the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Musk is a proponent of currencies like bitcoin and dogecoin (he has called himself the “dogefather,” and Tesla has purchased at least US$1.5 billion worth of bitcoin), and a giveaway scam saw Musk impostors contact potential victims with an opportunity to quickly “multiply” investments, asking them to convert dollars into cryptocurrencies, only to keep the money for themselves. This comes one year after scammers targeted Twitter, hacking into celebrity accounts (including Musk’s) in a similar fraud that netted US$121,000.
“WOW… THIS REALLY WORKS”
Thought a Mississauga, Ont., man after an initial $4,000 crypto investment turned a quick profit. Using a crypto trading agency he found online, he continued to invest but, when it came time to cash out, the agency—which turned out to be fraudulent—kept creating excuses and asked for more and more money to release the funds. “They would just put up roadblocks, left, right and centre,” the man said. “In order to get my money back, it cost me money.” All told, the man reportedly lost $200,000.
Phone calls and WhatsApp messages continued to flood his phone, including one that read: “It’s a scam, don’t send any more money.” The man was promised he would get all of his funds back—if he would transfer another $500.
Counterfeit trading and cryptocurrency apps were traced to a single server as part of a fraud identified by British cybersecurity firm Sophos. Scammers tricked users into downloading apps via a replica iOS App Store page—in some cases even luring victims via online dating websites. Victims then downloaded replica apps that stole users’ money. “The fake applications we uncovered impersonate popular and trusted financial apps from all over the world,” stated a Sophos senior researcher in a release. In some cases, Sophos reported that, when an individual would try to withdraw their money, scammers locked them out of their accounts.
WAYS TO STAY VIGILANT
Read about the CPA Canada 2021 Fraud Study and get tips to prevent falling victim to scamsters. Plus, find out which fraud trends are predicted to be on the rise.