Spike in Bitcoin value sparks wave of social media scams

Bitcoin’s move to integrate with established financial markets has sparked a surge in scams on social media, security experts have warned.

Researchers at ZeroFox spotted a wave of malicious links on social networks featuring the Bitcoin logo to draw potential victims in.

They observed more than 3,600 links shared in more than 8,700 posts in just three weeks, with scams ranging from phishing to pyramid schemes.

The surge in malicious posts could have been sparked by Bitcoin’s current value. Its highest ever, Bitcoin got the boost as news of proposals floated that could help the cryptocurrency to integrate with traditional financial markets.

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Despite the first set of plans being rejected, Bitcoin’s value has stayed above $1,000 (£800), making it an attractive target for cyber criminals.

This is further exacerbated by the digital currency’s anonymity, the researchers said.

“Bitcoin has blossomed into the modern scammer’s preferred method of payment,” they wrote in a blog post explaining the recent wave of scams.

“Social media provides access to a key demographic of digitally connected people who are most interested in getting into the Bitcoin game, but who also lack the specialised expertise necessary to tell a legitimate from an illegitimate offer.”

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These illegitimate offers ranged from fake Bitcoin wallet download links that actually led to malware to phishing sites and digital takes on traditional financial scams.

The researchers warned users to be wary of anyone claiming that they will give them Bitcoins or help them to mine the cryptocurrency.

Consumers are also advised to avoid links leading to offers that seem too good to be true. Avoid trading Bitcoins via social network messaging systems and ensure you are dealing with real companies when online.