Buying, selling, trading, and investing in Bitcoin can be confusing, especially if you’re new to the market. Plus, it’s not a heavily regulated industry, which makes it perfect for scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting targets.
Unfortunately, because Bitcoin is still fairly new, there is plenty of Bitcoin scams in Canada.
Of course, knowledge is power, so the more you know what to look for, the better prepared you will be to spot these scams when they occur.
That’s why we want to show you some of the more common Bitcoin scams you’ll see.
1. Phishing scams
One of the most common Bitcoin scams you’ll come across is phishing. If you’ve been involved with Bitcoin for any amount of time, there’s a good chance you’ve already encountered a phishing scam or two.
A Bitcoin phishing scam occurs when you get an email or message that looks as though it’s from an exchange you use regularly or your crypto wallet.
These emails include a link that will take you to a website that is nearly identical to the one you usually use. Unfortunately, it’s a scam.
These scams work by gathering your username and password when you log into the fake site. That’s all they need to steal your Bitcoin. The good news is, there are several ways you can avoid falling victim to phishing scams:
- Never click on a link in an email if you’re not sure about the email address
- Validate URLs before you submit your login information
- Under no circumstances should you ever give anyone your private key
2. Blackmail scams
This Bitcoin scam is just what it sounds like. Scammers will pretend to be from the CRA or another government agency in an attempt to separate victims from their funds. Another route they may take is that of hackers who have incriminating evidence against the intended target.
The most common version of a blackmail scam comes from someone who says they have hacked your computer and will use incriminating evidence found on your device if you don’t do what they say.
Typically, this email will threaten you with the promise that this evidence will go out to your social media contacts unless you agree to send Bitcoin.
Instructions on purchasing Bitcoin and where to send it are included in the email. Of course, none of it is true.
These fake blackmailers have no information on you, and nothing is going to happen if you don’t immediately purchase Bitcoin and send it to the given wallet address.
The truth is, this type of Bitcoin scam is playing the odds that if they send the email to enough people, someone will be foolish or scared enough to send them Bitcoin. Don’t be that person.
3. Pyramid Scams
You’ll often hear pyramid scams referred to as Ponzi schemes. These scams are very simple yet very good at attracting new investors. The draw is through the promise of very high returns. However, these returns come with a catch.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ponzi schemes, here’s how they work: an individual convinces others to invest in the project.
Initial investors believe they are getting amazing returns on their money, but what they’re really getting are the investments from new investors.
Convinced that the project is legit, the initial investors dump more funds into the scheme while recruiting other investors to do so as well.
Eventually, the whole thing comes crumbling down when no new money is being pumped into the “project.” When it does, the individual who started the scheme takes the money and runs.
Basically, if you’re being asked to recruit investors to a project, there’s a good chance it’s a pyramid scheme.
4. Fake wallets or exchanges
Next up on our list of Bitcoin scam in Canada are fake wallets and exchanges. Similar to phishing scams, these look and act like legitimate exchanges or wallets but are simply a way to separate you from your Bitcoin.
The most common way you’ll see fake wallets or exchanges entice people is through the promises of promotions or rewards.
Some will tout massive bonuses for those who deposit funds before the “limited time offer” expires. Of course, once your money is in their pocket, they’ll take off with your funds.
There are also fake wallet scams out there that convince you to download their wallet. Once you do, they’ll steal information about your accounts and run off with your Bitcoin.
Unfortunately, these types of apps have managed to infiltrate Google and Apple’s app stores, so be completely sure the app is legitimate before you download it.
Now you know a few of the more common types of Bitcoin scams to watch for, but how do you detect a Bitcoin scam before you lose your funds? Here are a few ways to identify and avoid scams:
- Look for a secure lock image in the browser address bar. If you don’t see that, the website isn’t secure and could potentially be a scam.
- Are there spelling errors or bad grammar in the website or email? If so, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a fake.
- Does the website begin with https or http? Websites that only use http are not secure, which means you’re using a site that isn’t protecting your data or information.
- Can you find an about us page for the project? While not all projects will have information about the people behind them, there are many scams that don’t provide this type of detailed information.
- Are there links to the website from other legitimate sources and websites? What do reviews of the site say about it? A great thing about the crypto community is that it’s quick to point out scams to others.
- Do you notice any celebrity endorsements on the site? There are plenty of Bitcoin scams out there that will use fake endorsements to convince users their project is legitimate.
- Where did you first find out about it? A lot of scams start on social media or approach users for investments. If that’s the case, you might be dealing with a scam.
- Does the project show ridiculously high returns on your investment? This should be a huge red flag that you’re dealing with a scam.
- Lastly, if the website just feels off when you visit it, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and look somewhere else.
Now you know the most common Bitcoin scams in Canada and the best ways to spot them and avoid them. The most important thing to remember when dealing with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is to always do your due diligence.
Before you send your funds to a wallet, app, or bitcoin exchange, determine the site’s legitimacy before submitting your financial or personal information.