Twitter has recently been hit by a plague of phishing scams promising free digital currency. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, was recently targeted by fake accounts.

The scam happens when a malicious person creates a fake account. The imposters often pose as a well-known people in the digital currency community. 

Replacing one letter in a Twitter username is often enough to fool people. For example, replacing a small letter ‘L’ for a capital ‘I’ is how someone faked the name ‘Vitalik’. Buterin voiced his frustration with the problem on Twitter.

Once a fake account is created they pose as the real person. The imposter replies to the real person’s posts and claims they are giving away free digital currency. In order to claim the free funds, they want you to send some of your own funds to an address included in their post.

The decentralized nature of digital currency means anyone sending money to the imposter’s address has no way of retrieving it. It is also very hard to trace who owns this address.

Vitalik Buterin, other well-known community members targeted

Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, also fell victim to imposters posing as him. He tweeted a public service announcement about the phishing attacks earlier in the week.

Other than warning people and reporting the fake accounts, there is little the real person can do to stop the malicious people from trying again.

Always proceed with caution before sending digital currencies anywhere. The likelihood that a respected person in digital currency is giving away free money is slim, so be wary of anyone offering to do so.

Bigger than Twitter

Imposters posing as people like Buterin or Lee have also used other forms of social media to target unsuspecting victims. Buterin also reported hearing of imposters contacting people through email and messaging apps with similar phishing attempts.

The phishing scams often involve an offer to give away free assets if you send them some of your funds.

This problem is not unique to digital currencies. In the 90s, when people first began adopting the internet and email, there was a similar wave of phishing scams. Emails from far off Princes, promising vast riches, seem almost like a joke today. Sadly though, many new to the technology fell victim to these imposters.

What can you do?

There are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of phishing. Try to stay informed about the various ways in which a scammer may be trying to trick you.

Think before you click on a link. Websites can easily be cloned and it’s important to verify you are on the correct site by checking things like URL and domain address. Downloading a wallet from a fake website, for instance, is a sure way to lose your digital assets. If you’re concerned, bookmark the correct sites and use the bookmark to visit the site again.

Never give out personal information, especially your wallet’s passphrase, password and private key. Not even Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin, would ever ask for this information from you. If someone does ask you for these, immediately terminate your communication with them.

Being aware and staying informed are the best tools to avoid falling for one of these traps. Lastly always remember the most important rule is ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.’

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Here are the correct links to a few popular site which have in the past been targeted by phishing attempts:

https://www.myetherwallet.com/

https://metamask.io/

https://bitcoin.org

https://www.dash.org/wallets/

 

Image credit: TechCrunch

 

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