Never should Bitcoin scams or other crypto scams be glorified, but they are sometimes actions of supreme guile. As people continue to get smarter about matters of technology (and security systems improve), it has become more and more difficult for criminals to get money out of people.
And to teach the public about things to be on the lookout for, and hopefully then be better protected from them, this is a new series. In it, I will be exploring many crypto scams.
Now, this will not be comprehensive, especially because new methods are being created constantly. It will also not cover that much of how to avoid these scams, as that is beyond this article’s scope. I simply want to inform you of their existence, so you can think with them.
So, now that we’re on the same page, let’s start. We’ll begin by looking at a very insidious scam: fake URLs.
The trick is simple, with a few versions—each one a deeper layer of sinisterness. The first is to create a slightly misspelled URL and then get people to click on it. Once there, it can look and feel and sound like the real website but take your log-in information for malicious purposes.
However, that won’t get the eagle-eyed. So, the next layer is using similar characters hard to distinguish the difference between like “O” and “0.” Sometimes, this can be nearly impossible to notice.
But what is impossible to determine on sight is the next layer. It’s possible to use non-English grammatical/punctuation symbols to create URLs. The URL then won’t show these marks, so you can create identical URLs to big companies.
Now, this may sound hopeless. It may feel like the internet just became a lot more dangerous. But knowing about the danger is always better than not. And, besides, there are a few easy steps to check if a site is fake. The first is to examine closely the URL. If they are just using a misspelling trick, it should be fairly detectable. If you’re worried about the more invisible methods of scamming, however, you can use third-party software to check the URL’s information. If a company known to be based in America, upon checking, is now hosted in some third-world country… well… it’s probably a scam.
And, because this is a known danger, there are undoubtfully more ways to check or protect oneself on the internet. As you understand more of the common tactics, you should be able to better notice—on a gut level—when something feels off to you.
And that’s a very important skill to have. And, to better build on that skill, come back soon and see our next article on scams. It’s a wild internet out there, it’s always better to be prepared.