FBI warns public over fake crypto apps

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States has warned the public about bogus cryptocurrency programs that have so far defrauded American investors of an estimated $42.7 million.

Exploiting the same logos and other identifying details as real cryptocurrency organizations, fraudsters have developed apps using them to mislead investors, according to a securities and intelligence agency alert released on Monday.

244 people had already been duped by these fraudulent apps, according to the FBI. Cybercriminals persuaded victims in one instance to download an app with the same logo as a legitimate U.S. banking institution, then encouraged them to deposit cryptocurrency into wallets that were ostensibly associated with their accounts.

Victims would be required to pay taxes on any withdrawals they sought to make using the app. However, even if the victims completed the payments, the withdrawals would still be unable to be made, therefore this was merely another scheme to defraud them of additional money.

The FBI reported that 28 victims were scammed of over $3.7 million between December 2021 and May 2022.

Cybercriminals engaged in another similar operation between October 2021 and May 2022, scamming at least four victims of almost $5.5 million while operating under the corporate name "YiBit."

In a third instance in November 2021, criminals using the alias "Supay" were implicated. They tricked two victims by convincing them to add cryptocurrency to their app wallets, which would later become frozen unless additional money was added.

Cybersecurity company ESET discovered a "sophisticated strategy" earlier this year that involved disseminating Trojan programs posing as well-known cryptocurrency wallets. Then, these applications would try to steal cryptocurrency from their targets.

One user reportedly lost $600,000 in Bitcoin last year as a result of a fraudulent cryptocurrency program posing as a mobile Trezor app on Apple's App Store.

According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report released in June 2022, since 2021, scammers have stolen up to $1 billion in cryptocurrency, with roughly half of all crypto-related scams coming from social media platforms.

Cryptocurrency investors are advised by the FBI to be aware of unsolicited solicitations to download investing apps and to confirm an app's (and the company's) legitimacy and treat apps with limited and/or broken functionality