What Are Airdrop Crypto Scams?

What Are Airdrop Crypto Scams?

We’re seeing an increasing number of clients coming to us after losing money through airdrop crypto scams. Airdrop scams involve fraudsters using fake websites, emails and social media profiles in an attempt to trick victims into claiming a fake airdrop. Typically, this will include the airdrop scammer convincing users to connect their wallets to a smart contract, or sharing their private wallet keys in exchange for claiming the airdrop. Once connected, the wallet will be drained, leaving victims without their funds. 

Twitter, or X as it is now known, has long been a popular platform for scammers to operate on and try and entice victims. Although a lot of tactics have been in circulation for many years, these methods are continually evolving and becoming more complex, leading to the evolution of scams such as the airdrop crypto scams. With that in mind, let’s take a look at airdrop scams and what they involve, plus how you can avoid falling victim to them. 

What Are Airdrop Scams?

Airdrops are usually marketing promotions which encourage crypto and trading enthusiasts to support a project, for which they are then rewarded with NFTs or other token gifts. Airdrop scams are built around fake airdrops which are heavily endorsed by a team or group of airdrop scammers, but they also attempt to exploit investors into taking part in incentive programmes. These programmes are usually fronts for the scammers to gain access to their wallets, draining them without the victim realising until it is too late.

How Do Airdrop Scams Work?

Airdrops involve the free distribution of tokens to users within cryptocurrency platforms. It is often done legitimately on certain crypto platforms and within the blockchain sector to draw attention to certain projects and to build up interest around new coins. But, as with many areas of the cryptocurrency landscape, certain individuals look to exploit areas for their own gain, such as with airdrop crypto scams. 

They will look to set up fraudulent schemes, fake websites and profiles and carry out fake token distributions. The sharing of such tends to happen on social media platforms, such as X, in order to reach a wider audience. 

The fake websites and profiles will look authentic at first glance, and in a lot of cases will almost identically match the original. From here, there will likely be requests for the user’s private key or seed phrase. Once these details are submitted to claim the ‘airdrop’, they will receive an error message and the contents of their wallets will be gone. 

Alternatively, with airdrop scams, victims might find that they instead have new tokens in their wallets. These are fraudulent NFTs, sent by the scammer, and which will typically contain messages such as “airdrop winnings”. They will lead to individuals clicking through to information phishing sites, where they will be prompted to connect their wallets and sign a smart contract. Then, their wallet becomes susceptible to further hacking, so you must never connect your wallet or grant unverified access. 

What Do Airdrop Scams Look Like?

Airdrop scams are, effectively, a form of phishing scam, in that they look to take your sensitive data and information. This then means that they can take on a number of different appearances and forms in order to do this. One of the most common ways for airdrop scams to end up in front of unsuspecting victims is through paid ads on social platforms. 

On X, like most other social media platforms, users are shown ads based on their interests. So if users show interest in crypto and trading, then they may be shown ads for fraudulent airdrops more regularly, enticing them into going through with the scam. In December 2023, a report found that a crypto scammer that was being promoted on X and Google Search stole over $59 million from thousands of victims over the course of 9 months. 

It’s believed that ads on X promoting scams, such as the airdrop crypto scam, are increasing in volume and the platform are doing little about it in order to give its dwindling advertising performance a boost. Elon Musk announced last year that, since he took over, X has lost just over half of its advertising revenue. 

How To Avoid Falling For Airdrop Scams

With the complexity of airdrop scams evolving, it’s important to remain vigilant to the signs of the scam. There are some ways in which you can avoid falling for airdrop scams, including:

  • Remember that your private keys and recovery phrases are only required when you log into your wallet via a new app or browser. There is no need to input this information when you are logging in or making any transactions on a crypto or NFT market. 
  • If an airdrop needs your private key or seed phrase to confirm, then this is one of the telltale signs that it is an airdrop scam. 
  • Airdrops aren’t secret, as after all, the goal is to attract users, but with legitimate airdrops, there will be plenty of information online about it. With airdrop scams, there is likely to be no further supporting information. Always be sure to do some research beforehand. 
  • Some real airdrops will require you to connect your wallet, allowing you to claim your reward directly through there. However, this will always be done on a verified and legitimate wallet website. Be sure to always examine the wallet destination thoroughly to ensure that it isn’t a fake website linked to an airdrop scam. 

Conclusion

Even the most experienced crypto and trading investors can fall for airdrop scams. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the real from the fake and many websites can look the same. Remember, that airdrops themselves are a real crypto opportunity, but airdrop scams are equally just as real. 
Fake airdrops and airdrop scams have some telltale signs, like those listed above, but we’re seeing more and more clients falling victim to these scams online. If you believe that you’ve been the victim of an airdrop scam, then contact our team at WRS today and we can get your recovery journey started.

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