On Friday (April 19), cryptoasset exchange Coinbase’s security team explained how various “threat actors” are trying to use Coinbase’s brand to commit scams on messaging platform Telegram.
Telegram is a free cloud-based messaging app with the ability to make voice/video calls. It is available as a web app, a mobile app (OS and Android), and a desktop app (MacOS, Windows, and Linux). In recent years, it has become the messaging platform of choice for cryptocurrency traders/investors, developers, and entrepreneurs for various reasons, such as the ability to create price bots.
In a long, detailed article published on Friday, Matt Muller, Head of Security Operations at Coinbase, started by pointing out that “Coinbase does not provide support through Telegram, nor do we have any authorized groups or channels.” (In fact, “Coinbase has no official presence on Telegram,” and “any usage of the Coinbase logo or brand on Telegram” should be considered a scam.)
He then went on to say that Coinbase’s security team has been following the activities of “several threat actors attempting to leverage the Coinbase brand on Telegram for purposes ranging from crypto scams to account takeovers.”
In order to help users of Coinbase and other exchanges recognize “the signs that they may be talking to a scammer,” Muller outlined some of the most common scam techniques on Telegram.
- Employment Scams: “Scammers on Telegram impersonate Coinbase recruiters and executives with fake career opportunities. These scams prey on job seekers, soliciting payment for training materials, mining hardware, or in some cases providing stolen financials for the purposes of money laundering. These job offers will appear very legitimate, with forged offer letters and seemingly astute interview questions. Coinbase recruiters will never contact job seekers via Telegram.”
- Giveaway Scams: “Impersonations of our executives and brand to perpetuate giveaway scams are becoming increasingly common on Telegram. One channel in particular, titled simply Coinbase, advertises a new giveaway scam almost daily.”
- Load-up Scams: “Telegram frequently hosts scammers advertising the buying or ‘loading’ of accounts with high limits. These scammers ask to access your Coinbase account, so they can use your verified limits to buy digital currency. While they claim to split profits with the account holder, in actuality, they use stolen credit cards and bank accounts, leaving you responsible for facilitating a financial crime. When the legitimate card or account holder reverses payments, you will be responsible for any account delinquencies caused by the fraudulent bank reversals. In many cases, the scammer will lock you out of your account, use your own payment methods without consent and steal any available digital currency.”
- Tech Support Scams: “Scams impersonating customer support take many shapes and sizes… Scammers will impersonate Coinbase or Coinbase employees, asking you to take action that results in theft of digital currency. Some scams involve fake promo offers. Many of these scams ask for remote access to your computer, something Coinbase personnel will never ask for… In other situations, the scammers pressure you into ‘upgrading’ or securing your Coinbase account by sending digital currency to their external address.”
- Coin Listing and ICO Scams: “Scammers on Telegram often approach project developers soliciting payment for asset listings on Coinbase and other digital asset exchanges. In addition, scams promising investment bonuses on new ICO listings are prolific.”