As the popularity of cryptocurrencies continues to increase and evolve, and more and more people join the crypto bandwagon it becomes easier to scam users as the number of people to target increases. There are numerous precautions one can take, and while it is never possible to be 100% safe from hackers and scammers, you can significantly lower the risk of being scammed and losing out on money by knowing the problems and the best way to protect yourself.
How to Protect Yourself
There is one key principle that one should always uphold when looking to be secure on the internet. The principle is quite simple, to research as much as possible and then research some more. By having all the information gathered together and having a wide array of this information, it becomes far easier to look after one’s own interests.
The key factors that run throughout the scams are all quite similar in essence. By using common sense, it can be far easier to avoid a number of these scams. By being as skeptical as possible about certain things, you can be prepared for certain cons and scams that may appear. The simple rule to keep in mind: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Here are some of the more common scams to be aware of.
#1: Cloud Mining Services
Cloud mining scam websites look to defraud mining community members and vulnerable amateurs. If you’re in the camp of people who would prefer cloud mining to hardware mining, you need to be extra vigilant in this respect.
There are several tricks that scammers would user here such as keeping their domain hidden and not being registered to a real user at any point. Other tricks involve registering the company in a reputable place like New York, but the directors all being foreign residents.
#2: Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Schemes
Bitcoin MLM (multi-level marketing) schemes use the common aspect of network marketing (also known as direct selling) and exploit the popularity of bitcoin to make a scam. They are full of claims which are exaggerated and make the user feel that he can make money quickly and efficiently.
These schemes can be identified very quickly and easily though as they all have one thing in common. They are not actually selling any product or service. Instead, they invite you to join a complex group with lots of levels and normally require some sort of fee. At the end of the day, though, there is nothing really there, and you’re simply left with a complex pyramid scheme.
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#3: Bitcoin Investment Packages (BIPs)
Bitcoin investment packages are another type of scam in the Bitcoin sphere. Bitcoin investment schemes are not unlike cloud mining scams in the sense that they promise returns and pay out small daily returns until one day all payments stop and the scammer runs off with users’ invested funds. Like the former, bitcoin investment scams in effect, Ponzi schemes.
Since these “investments” usually seem extremely profitable at first as daily payments are being given gained by those using it, users will tend to re-invest their earnings into the scheme to gain more profit. Once users attempt to withdraw their earnings, however, this is when the problems tend to begin and the money invested disappears.
If you do want to put funds into a digital currency investment service be sure that the firm offering the service is adequately incorporated and has reputable industry professionals running it. In addition to this, ensure that the investment strategy they propose is clearly outlined and coherent. Nothing is certain in the investment world, so beware of companies who guarantee returns.
#4: Identifying Fake ICOs
Fake ICOs can be harder to spot nowadays are scammers get more and more sophisticated. An Initial Coin Offering looks to sells coins, and many of these sites have detailed information and even white papers you can read. However, there are still some clues to look out for in the case of these.
An established, reputable company is less likely to scam you given the fact that they are bound by government regulations of a country anyway and are unlikely to be able to run far. In addition to this, one should look if the senior management team have a strong presence on social media as well as reputable reviews. A startup will not normally look to exploit certain factors which sound too good to be true, so look out for that as well.
#5: Pump-and-Dump Schemes
Pump and dump schemes are a relatively simple kind of scam. This form of conning someone normally involves artificially inflating prices of less popular coins by spreading untrue information in an attempt to generate interest in the token and “pump” it.
The culprits in these schemes tend to be individuals who are known as the “pumpers.” These are the market players that “pump” a token— most often an unpopular cryptocurrency which is seldom desired. These players purchase up significant amounts of these coins and attempt to ‘pump’ them across numerous social media platforms. Once the token’s value has artificially risen, they dump the token to unsuspecting investors and depart.
To avoid this, simply look at the market caps of coins, if they are low, but the coin has a high price and sudden random surge, it is likely that this value was artificially doctored by the fraudsters.
The simplest way to summarise this piece would be to simply emphasize the importance of research and common sense. By using a vigilant eye and looking up any company you look to invest in, your chance of being scammed will be greatly reduced.