Crooks create rogue cryptocurrency-themed apps to steal crypto assets from users

Pierluigi Paganini July 19, 2022

The U.S. FBI has warned of crooks developing malicious cryptocurrency-themed apps to steal crypto assets from the users.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned of crooks creating malicious cryptocurrency-themed apps to steal crypto assets from investors.

Crooks contact US investors claiming to offer legitimate cryptocurrency investment services, and attempt to trick them into downloading fraudulent mobile apps that they have created.

According to the alert issued by the FBI, the illicit scheme allowed the cybercriminals to steal around $42.7 million from 244 victims between October 4, 2021, and May 13, 2022.

“The FBI is warning financial institutions and investors about cyber criminals creating fraudulent cryptocurrency investment applications (apps) to defraud cryptocurrency investors. The FBI has observed cyber criminals contacting US investors, fraudulently claiming to offer legitimate cryptocurrency investment services, and convincing investors to download fraudulent mobile apps, which the cyber criminals have used with increasing success over time to defraud the investors of their cryptocurrency.” reads the alert. “The FBI has identified 244 victims and estimates the approximate loss associated with this activity to be $42.7 million.”

Between 22 December 2021 and 7 May 2022, cyber criminals posing as a legitimate US financial institution defrauded at least 28 victims of approximately $3.7 million. The cyber criminals created an app that was using name and logo of an actual US financial institution and tricked the victims into depositing cryptocurrency into wallets associated with the victims’ accounts on the app.

When 13 of the 28 victims attempted to withdraw funds from the app, they had a bad surprise. An email informed them that part of the funds was used to pay taxes on their investments, but once paid the supposed tax, the victims remained unable to withdraw funds.

The report also includes other cases of fraudulent activities where scammers masqueraded as companies named YiBit and Supayos (aka Supay) and used the same scheme to steal funds from tens of victims.

Below is the list of recommendations shared by the FBI:

for financial institutions:

  • Proactively warn customers about this activity and provide steps customers can take to report it.
  • Inform customers as to whether the financial institution offers cryptocurrency investment services or other related services and methods to identify legitimate communications from the institution to customers.
  • Inform customers whether the financial institution has a mobile application.
  • Periodically conduct online searches for your company’s name, logo, or other information to determine if they are associated with fraudulent or unauthorized activity.

for investors:

  • Be wary of unsolicited requests to download investment applications, especially from individuals you have not met in person or whose identity you have not verified. Take steps to verify an individual’s identity before providing them with personal information or relying on their investment advice.
  • Verify an app is legitimate before downloading it by confirming the company offering the app actually exists, identifying whether the company or app has a website, and ensuring any financial disclosures or documents are tailored to the app’s purpose and the proposed financial activity.
  • Treat applications with limited and/or broken functionality with skepticism.

Feds urge financial institutions to warn their customers about this activity and inform customers as to whether they offer cryptocurrency services.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, cryptocurrency-themed apps)

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