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When cryptocurrencies rhyme with scams: A reality not to be neglected

01/22/2024 | News | Cryptocurrencies | Internet scams



Cryptocurrencies are no longer a new phenomenon. They are multiplying and becoming more and more part of our daily lives. We talk about it on TV, in the news on the internet, through discussions and analyzes on YouTube. This growing popularity is accompanied by an increase in scams linked to and through cryptocurrencies. This reality requires increased vigilance and constant awareness of the risks associated with this new payment method.


What is the typical pattern of a cryptocurrency scam?


Scams on cryptocurrency exchanges often start with a relationship of trust established by the scammers, who offer attractive investments. The victim is then tricked into opening a wallet on one of the known platforms (such as Crypto.com, Binance, Coinbase, Kraken etc.), and, under the direction of the scammers, who use takeover software remotely like AnyDesk or TeamViewer, it makes transfers to unknown wallets.


What is the path of the funds transferred by the victim from their wallet to the wallet communicated to them by the scammer?



We will take the example of Bitcoin but this is valid for all cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin mixers (or tumblers) play an important role in covering the financial trails of scammers. This technique aims to mix cryptocurrencies received from multiple users, then redistribute these funds to designated addresses. This process deliberately blurs the traceability of transactions.

 

When a victim sends cryptocurrencies to a Mixer, the Mixer address becomes the recipient of outgoing transactions from the victim's wallet. Conversely, for a reception address, it is still the address of the Mixer which is used. This system makes it extremely difficult to identify original sources and recipients.

 

This is how scammers use these services to stay in the dark and hide the origin of illegally obtained funds.


Would the victim's bank have a role in protecting its client against these scams?


In the context of online scams involving cryptocurrencies, an often overlooked aspect is the responsibility of the issuing banks, although they play an essential role, especially when sums of sums of money are involved. Large amounts of money, varying between 5,000 and 100,000 euros or more, are transferred to cryptocurrency exchange platforms. According to our current files, more than 80% of online scams go through cryptocurrency exchange platforms, which raises questions about the vigilance of banks.


Issuing banks, informed for years by Tracfin reports, as well as by alerts from the Banque de France and the European Central Bank, are largely aware of these risks . Despite this knowledge, many appear to let their clients make large transfers to these platforms without carrying out adequate checks or providing necessary caveats.


Today, it must be unimaginable that customers could make such transfers without their banks taking proactive measures. It is the responsibility of banks to intervene, not only to protect their customers but also to ensure that they do not unintentionally facilitate fraudulent activities. Reinforced control procedures and effective alert systems must be put in place to detect and prevent these risky transfers. This does not contravene the principle of non-interference of the banker in the affairs of his clients. On the contrary, these monitoring and warning actions must be seen as an integral part of the advice and information duties inherent to the role of financial advisor.


What are the chances of victims getting their funds back?


It must be said that once the funds are transferred by the victims the chances of recovering them are generally limited and difficult to quantify. It is essential for victims to act quickly. The immediate filing of a complaint for fraud (article 313-1 of the Penal Code) is the first step:

  • It is imperative to keep all evidence and supporting documents relating to the scam. This includes any communication with the scammer, evidence of false identity or deceptive schemes used to mislead you.

  • Then you will have to go to the police station closest to your home to file a complaint.


At the same time, consulting a lawyer specializing in internet scams is essential. These actions are the first steps towards possible recovery of lost funds.




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