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Watch out for Scammers!

Watch out for Scammers! Bitcoin

How to Not Lose all Your Money Trading Crypto

 

Do I have your attention now? Good, let’s get to it.

It’s a Bitcoin bull market right now. Meaning, one year ago (April 2020) you could buy 1 Bitcoin for about $7,000-$8,000 USD. In the past week you could buy 1 Bitcoin from around $60,000-$63,000.

And following Bitcoin’s rise, we are currently in a bull market for other cryptocurrencies, referred to as altcoins. As those in the crypto industry say, it is “altcoin season.” Some of the returns on these cryptocurrencies are, in a word, ridiculous. If you invested $1,000 in Dogecoin on January 1st and sold it in April, your return would be about $78,000. If you did the same with VeChain it would be $12,000. Theta Token, $6,700. The list goes on and on.

In crypto, the reward potential is very high and tens of millions of investors around the world are willing to take more risk to get that reward.

Most of us wish we had gains like that. And that is what scammers use to take advantage of new people to the space. We all make mistakes, but one of these could be a total disaster.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Scammers — What to Look for

 

Woman stress over laptop

Scammers are much more common in a market with a lot of green traders and investors desperate for a profit. Here are some things to look for:

• They promise 100% guaranteed returns.

• They promise illogical return rates such as 10% interest per day, meaning 100% interest in 10 days.

• They bait using a way to get quick profits, and some “inside skinny” only they can help you with.

• Fake accounts join Bitcoin & crypto Facebook groups calling themselves a Forex trader, broker, trusted investment advisor, etc. As a note, Twitter has been policing them. So, on Twitter, report them. Facebook does a terrible job and seem to have an algorithm instead of an intelligent person reviewing reports. I have reported hundreds of scammers, and usually get the response that they didn’t violate the rules. I even had a scammer contact me on LinkedIn, so they’re out there. They respond to messages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. and attempt to get in communication privately or even on another app such as WhatsApp, which also gives them your phone number.

• They stress heavily that they are legit and not a scam in their promotion of themselves.

• They promote that THEY can be trusted, and to invest your money in them as a person so that it is easy and safe. This apparently fools some people, or no one would try. As a note, there is no person authorized as a custodian of others’ funds in any field that promotes themselves through Facebook groups or any other social media. Any legitimate place to buy or sell cryptocurrency is a wallet or exchange, not a person.

• They promote other supposed people who have screenshots claiming to have withdrawn money successfully. Some even have entire websites.

• Copies of Twitter influencer accounts. Elon Musk, Binance, Vitalik Buterin, etc. These got so common in 2017 that many influencers added “I will never send you Eth” in their name. The name and picture are the same, but since you cannot copy the handle, there is a slight alteration , such as inserting a number or a symbol. For example, just type in the @ symbol and Elon Musk right here on Medium and you’ll find a bunch. Some even switch between influencers and are copying less big names but nonetheless influencers with 20,000 followers. The scam of “Send me 0.1 ETH to verify and I will send you 1 ETH” was one of the first tricks. Of course, you send them the money and they disappear.

• Their Facebook accounts can pretend to be an American but upon questioning wouldn’t notice that Miami is not right next to Denver. Also, many of these accounts are a few days old, and don’t have any friends. Others state the person works in New York City but has visited locations in Nigeria three times last week. One of these I entertained because their instant messages clearly had grammar of a foreigner from Eastern Europe, didn’t know where Florida was and kept insisting they grew up in Iowa.

• Some of these pretend to be attractive young women and act flirtatiously.

• Anyone asking you for your passwords or private keys for any reason is a scammer.

• Websites promoting “Bitcoin cloud mining” or “Bitcoin mining” on your phone or computer. There are dozens of fraudulent sites out there.

• There are also scam projects promoting themselves as a cryptocurrency. If it is a cryptocurrency, you can always see the blockchain online with a block explorer. This is a website which can track every address and every transaction. Every blockchain has this. If they cannot provide a block explorer for the blockchain, it is not a cryptocurrency.

• Read the website URL. Is it different than who it is claiming to be?

• Any website requiring a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or that is flagged as suspicious by your browser is probably suspicious. I am not saying VPNs are bad and that you should not use one yourself, but unless you’re in a country which actually blocks the free internet, like Iran or China, you should never need to access a legal, legitimate website with a VPN.

• If you have invested your money into a scam, they may announce that you have won a prize or your investment has now increased 10X, but you need to pay a fee to withdraw your funds. If it was real, the fee would be deducted from your earnings, you would never need to pay it before receiving the funds.

Scared now? Don’t be. But be safe out there, and I hope you can follow these rules and not become wise the hard way. I had to learn a few of these lessons the hard way myself, and I don’t wish that on anyone. I want those who support a decentralized and democratized future to succeed, not get scammed!

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This article is not investment advice, nor does it take your personal financial situation into account. Never invest more than you are willing to lose, and don’t buy Bitcoin or other investments on credit. I write about my observations and personal opinions with the purpose to share what I have learned with others.

Disclosure: I am invested in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Author

Alexandre Lores is a personal finance writer from Tampa Bay, Florida, with the goal to help one million people achieve financial freedom. He has spent over five years studying markets and economics, finding Bitcoin in 2017 and never turning back. He frequently appears on TV and in online news articles and is a regular Twitter spaces host.

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