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Crypto giveaway scam sites have tripled in a year

Racks of graphics cards being used for cryptocurrency mining
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Crypto currencies of all varieties are notorious for being incredibly unpredictable and volatile. (opens in new tab) It's also deeply niche, and especially from the outside it's a difficult market to comprehend. Even a little bit on the inside it can be truly baffling as to how value is attained and assigned, especially with the potential energy costs (opens in new tab) and environmental offsets it just doesn't make a lot of sense most of the time. This mysterious complexity combined with tantalising promise cultivated by the rise of bitcoin and you have a perfect storm for scams.

Now of course, scams are rife within certain crypto sectors. NFTs in particular are often the subject (opens in new tab), whether they're being stolen by scammers or made by them. There have been so many get quick rich crypto schemes that have successfully taken advantage of people, and the internet is really cottoning on. According to Bleeping Computer (opens in new tab), fake crypto currency giveaway sites have tripled this year, painting a troubling picture of successful criminals in this space.

The report was published by cybersecurity company Group-IB (opens in new tab) which found the sites generally target English and Spanish speakers. They will often use deepfakes of celebrities claiming to endorse the product, tricking people into believing the credibility of the site. Group-IB states that over 2,000 domains were registered this year with the purpose of becoming these kinds of crypto scam sites.

The sites are pulling in an average viewer count of about 15,000 each. Of course not all of these people are getting scammed, but even getting those clicks is worrying. There's no way these sites would be so commonplace if they weren't at least somewhat successful. Thanks to how easy they are to set up, and all the tools available to scammers nowadays like deepfakes and rented YouTube accounts, we're seeing three times more of these sites than we did even this time last year.

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It's all being streamlined on forums to the point where people are marketing off their assets to help with scams. Be it the websites, promotional videos, deepfakes, streams, and all sorts. Everything is sold online and even the computer illiterate can purchase a package and have it all basically taken care of with automated toolkits. It's no surprise we're seeing such growth, especially if they're pulling in cash.

So, the simple answer here is don't fall for it. A website claiming to give away free crypto is likely a big enough red flag in and of itself. It's a smart idea to stay away from basically anything promising something for nothing online. If you've got family that might be vulnerable, now might be the time to sit them down and have the talk about internet safety, and celebrity deepfakes.

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Vooks.net. Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast (opens in new tab) right here.

No, she’s not kidding.