Crypto scammers have been busy making millions at the cost of iPhone users who were merely looking for romance on dating apps. Wherever there is great profit, fraud comes to trick its way into a promised land.
The increase of scammers has been widely reported this year. They are a real danger for cryptocurrency users. It is not only about the money, but their personal data is also at risk.
Sophos, the British cyber security company, has been following up these romance-targeted frauds and they recently gave them the code name of “CryptoRom”.
From a few news reports only, Sophos pointed out that victims have lost from $25.000 to $87.000 by trusting scammers who contacted them on dating apps. On a bigger scale, one of the scammer’s bitcoin addresses had a total of $1.38 million in it. To this number, one can add up all the other unknown addresses of scammers
Sophos had already set their eyes on these types of scams past may, but the situation has become more serious. The hackers have expanded from Asia to the US, the UK, France, and Hungary; meaning that the risk is only growing, gaining territory and power. These scammers have learned enough about social behavior to make millions out of three different continents.
The CryptoRom scammers abuse the Apple Enterprise Signature program, a software used for app development. Like a true cyber parasite, they gain control of the victim’s iPhone, being able to fully manage it and install even more apps for hacking purposes.
As explained by Sophos:
When an iOS device user visits one of the sites used by these scams, a new profile gets downloaded to their device. Instead of a normal ad hoc profile, it is an MDM provisioning profile signed with an Enterprise certificate that is downloaded. The user is asked to trust the profile and, after they do that, the crooks can manage their device depending on the profile contents.
The Crypto Scam Modus Operandi
Scammers might not seem like it at first. Nowadays, they take their time to befriend the victims. Some attackers tend to disguise themselves as celebrities. Sophos has also explained the procedure of the CryptoRom scammers by segmenting it into 5 stages.
First, they create a convincing profile -the most prominent sites being Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, and Facebook Dating-; second, after approaching the victim they ask to chat in a different messenger service such as WhatsApp.
Later on, they ask to download an app for crypto trading. The hackers gain the victim’s confidence by allowing them to make a withdrawal of a fake profit at first. The last step of the fraud is to not let the victim access their funds, topped by removing their money.
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What shows itself at first as a casual conversation, ends up in a millionaire scam.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been warning about the big increase of these frauds for a while. Earlier this year they shared tips on how to protect oneself:
Before you invest, check it out. Research online for the name of the company and the cryptocurrency name, plus words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.” See what others are saying.
As Bitcoin prices are on the rise and the world is leading to a predominately digital economy era, the scammers will become cruder and more creative on their methods. It is fundamental to stay away from unverified Apps and investment promises that sound too good to be true.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin trades at $61,767 with small losses in the daily chart.