This typically involves targeting unprepared victims, who end up losing their Bitcoin as a result. In this guide, we will walk you through the most common Bitcoin scams. We’ll show you how to spot them and make sure you don’t become the next victim.
Fake Bitcoin Exchanges
Often on social media, you’ll see a link saying something like “Buy bitcoin for 5% under market value. Save big!”
This is a marketing trick to get you to visit and use their fake exchange. If you visit any exchange site the very first thing you want to do is make sure it’s HTTPS secured and not HTTP. This means that the web traffic is encrypted and secured; if it’s just HTTP without the “S” that is a big red flag and means stay away. Another red flag to look out for is fake exchanges that offer to sell Bitcoin for PayPal.
On these sites, you’ll see a web form to enter your PayPal email and amount to sell. After submitting, you will be presented with a QR code to send your bitcoin to. But the money never arrives. Most of these fake exchanges are here one day and gone the next. You will see them pop up but will quickly disappear, and then re-emerge with a different domain name later. To be sure you are going to a real Bitcoin exchange, visit our exchange portal on Bitcoin.com to ensure you aren’t being scammed.
Fake Bitcoin Wallets
Spotting fake Bitcoin wallets is a bit tougher, because wallets primarily are about storing bitcoin and not buying or selling it. It has less to do with money than it does with the software you may use. Typically, fake Bitcoin wallets are just scams for malware to infect your machine in order to steal your passwords or private keys.
To ensure security, Bitcoin.com recommends our official Bitcoin Wallet for desktop and mobile users. To browse all of the wallets offered through Bitcoin.com, check out our wallets page. Just like with fake Bitcoin exchange sites, you should trust your instincts and look for red flags.
Does the wallet site use HTTPS?
Is the name of the wallet site trying to resemble another reputable Bitcoin wallet by impersonating it? Outside of the obvious, it may be hard to tell if a wallet is fake. A good practice is to ask your peers if someone has used the wallet before. You can do this on the Bitcoin Forum or Bitcoin Reddit. If the wallet is a downloadable client, another good practice is to check the site for malware.
Sites like VirusTotal are a great resource for checking executables to see if they contain viruses. To avoid scams and to be sure you are getting a real Bitcoin wallet, visit our wallet portal on Bitcoin.com or directly download Bitcoin.com’s official wallet.
This is a very common scam. Phishing is when someone tries to trick you into thinking they are a trusted company or website by having you visit a fake site. Typically, phishers contact you via email or through a fake web advertisement. The end result is you go to their website by mistake and either get malware, or lose your bitcoin through a fake sale.
With emails, you have to be careful to not take the bait. You may receive an email from a wallet or exchange you already use, either by coincidence or through past database hacks. Maybe hackers obtained your email address on the black market; for example from a Yahoo! or another service hack. Best practice is to not click on any hyperlinks in an email or open attachments.
Go directly to the website if you have to do business there. A common tactic is to make a hyperlink look real, but if you hover over it you will see the fake website URL. Always check the sender email to see where it’s coming from (although this is not 100% reliable as emails can be spoofed). With fake web advertisements, you have to be careful on the site you are visiting. This usually happens when searching the web for things like “blockchain.”
The top result could actually be an advert via Google for example but may end up being a fake Bitcoin wallet. Best practice is to not visit sponsored ad content in search results, and just manually type the real website address directly into your browser. To be sure you are going to a real Bitcoin wallet, visit bitcoin wallet portal on Bitcoin.com to ensure you aren’t being scammed.
Ponzi scams are promises from websites that you will “double your bitcoin” overnight or some similar outlandish claim. Ponzi sites may be harder to spot, but they’re easy to figure out once you understand this: the only way to double your money is to first send it to them.
Ponzi sites also typically have referral programs, so if you get others to sign up for the site by visiting your affiliate link, you may make a few cents. This is another red flag, as many times you will see on social media, shared links with referrals within the URL. Usually, it will look something like this (referral link is in bold): domain.com/ponzi/?ref=12345