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The Rise Of Fake Cryptocurrency Apps And How To Avoid Them

There’s a popular view that every good thing created by man is likely to be corrupted and destroyed by man. 

The cryptocurrency projects on blockchain technology are one of the greatest innovations of man in this 21st century. 

The benefits of cryptocurrencies in the finance world can never be overemphasized, as people and countries are massively adopting cryptocurrency in place of fiat money. 

Since the invention of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, transactions can be carried out in a completely secure, anonymous and decentralized manner. This ingenious financial innovation and the opportunities that abound around it have attracted both genuine users and criminals who prey on the users.

The decentralized and secure nature of the blockchain makes it quite difficult to be hacked or coins stolen.

However, scammers have devised a means to manoeuvre the highly secure blockchain and defraud crypto investors of their cryptocurrencies.

According to the FBI fraud report lately, scammers have devised the use of fake crypto apps to swindle money from gullible crypto investors in the USA. The report showed that crypto investors in the USA have lost approximately $42.7 million to scammers through fake apps.

One of the strategies they use to attract their victims is high interest in cryptocurrencies invested in the apps, especially during bull market trends.

It’s never a good experience losing your portfolio to an unknown swindler, it’s a great loss and terrible experience to undergo.

This article will highlight an overview of fake cryptocurrency apps and how to avoid them.

How Do Fake Crypto Scammers Trap Users?

Fake crypto app swindlers are not just some regular scammers online, they use numerous techniques to attract crypto investors

The following are some of the techniques they use and you should be wary of them.

1. Social Engineering Schemes:

This is a common strategy used by fake crypto app scammers to entice their victims. They do this by tracking, stalking and befriending the victims on social media platforms especially dating sites and convince them into downloading fake cryptocurrency apps which may appear to be functional and real at first.

However, when the victim transfers funds to the app,  the funds will be “locked in” and the victim is never allowed to make withdrawals anymore. Sometimes, the fake crypto app scammer promises the victim an absurd high return on the app. They only realize the trick when the funds become irredeemable.

2. Prominent Brand Names:

Knowing they can’t use some weird unknown apps to swindle funds, these fake crypto app scammers have started leveraging popular brands to advertise their fake apps because of the reputation they hold. 

The latest FBI crypto crime report showed that some fake crypto app swindlers posing as YiBit employees duped some crypto investors about $5.5 million after they successfully convinced them to download a fake YiBit crypto trading app from which they stole the funds.

Unknown to the crypto investors, the real YiBit crypto exchange ceased operation in 2018.

These kinds of schemes have been ongoing for a long time but many of such incidents were unreported due to a lack of proper channels, especially in areas where cryptocurrencies are prohibited.

3. Distributing Fake Apps Through Official App Stores:

Even though platforms like Google Play Store and Apple Store put apps through some integrity tests before listing them on the platform, some fake may still slip through the crack.

Fake crypto app scammers sometimes push these phoney apps on official platforms and get many people to download them.

Upon setting up the apps, some may require user credentials which the scammers use to unlock crypto accounts on their corresponding official platforms. Others offer free wallets for storing crypto portfolios but steal funds the moment a deposit is made to the wallet.

Lately, swindlers achieve this by registering as app developers on app stores like Google Play and Apple Store, then uploading legitimate-looking apps which are not legitimate. 

Related: Crypto Romance Scam: How To Detect And Prevent Online Dating Scam

How To Identify A Fake Crypto App

Fake cryptocurrency apps have a very close resemblance to the real ones and if one is not extremely clever and observant, one may fall victim to fake crypto apps.

As a crypto investor, you should be able to tell when a crypto app is fake or real. 

However, if you can’t discern between both, the following hints will help you ascertain the authenticity of a crypto app.

1. Spelling, Icons And Description:

Indeed, fake apps normally have a name and icon similar to the real ones but sometimes, the app or developer names of the fake ones are spelt incorrectly.

Run a quick underground search about the app and confirm its legitimacy. Also, confirm that the app has a Google Editor’s choice badge because apps with this badge are unlikely to be fake.

The badge is awarded by the Google Play editorial to apps and developers that possess extraordinary quality.

2. Application Permissions:

Fake apps request more permissions than real apps and most of the permissions they request are unnecessary. 

Getting as many permissions as possible ensures they elicit much information from the victim’s devices.

As such, apps that require off-centre permissions such as device administrator privileges are likely to be fake crypto apps and should be avoided. 

Such permission, when given, could give the scammers easy access to a device and allow them to intercept sensitive information that could be used to unlock crypto wallets.

3. The Number Of Downloads:

This is another way to discern fake apps from real apps because the number of downloads an app has, shows how legitimate and popular it is.

Real apps from reliable developers are downloaded more and get thousands of both positive and negative reviews, unlike fake ones.

4. Confirming Authenticity By Contacting Support:

You can confirm the legitimacy of an app by contacting support through the company’s official website. When you realise that you can’t contact support to confirm the app you’re about to download, then it is likely fake, legitimate apps that have provisions for downloading the app from the company’s official website.

Conclusion 

The cryptocurrency ecosystem is still a growing one, hence it is not perfectly immune to some of these problems in the cause of its usage and adoption.

However, it is unfortunate that swindlers have targeted and  taken advantage of the ignorance of many crypto enthusiasts using fake crypto apps 

Proper security and scrutiny measures by the app developers will likely tackle this problem in the future.

 

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