While cryptocurrency-related scams are commonplace on Twitter, Facebook users have started being targeted by scammers with fake cryptocurrency ads.
Facebook Users Targeted with Fake Crypto Ads
Twitter has been widely plagued with cryptocurrency-related scams, typically through phony giveaways that lure users into sending crypto in exchange for a larger sum. The scam is so frequent and so commonplace, that scammers may have reached a level of saturation on that social media platform, and have since turned to its social media rival, Facebook.
A string of sponsored ads promoting a fake cryptocurrency has been spotted on Facebook. In this particular scheme, the cybercriminals behind it aren’t looking to steal cryptocurrencies from Facebook users, they’re trying to gain access to sensitive user data, including credit card information.
Hard Fork says the ad redirects users from Facebook, to a site mimicking CNBC, which does indeed report on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The site offers Facebook users the chance to get in on a “big investment opportunity” and provides info on a fake cryptocurrency called CashlessPay.
Related Reading: Facebook Has a Change of Heart, Reverses Ban on Crypto Ads
The website also features all of the common red flags the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) points out on their HoweyCoins educational website designed to teach investors how to spot fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs). These signs include a celebrity endorsement by British serial entrepreneur and investor Sir Richard Branson, and the promise of turning “today’s breakfast money” into “something big within a week.”
Clicking through the counterfeit CNBC site leads to the CashlessPay fake crypto site itself, and completing the registration process further sends users down the scam’s rabbit hole to phony cryptocurrency exchanges hosted in Bulgaria.
Facebook May Regret Its Move to Reinstate Crypto Ads
At the start of the year, Facebook, Google, and others banned cryptocurrency-related ads outright – fraudulent or legit – from their advertising platforms. The move was highly controversial, and many point to the ban as what kicked off the current bear market.
However, back in June, Facebook updated its advertising policies to allow some pre-approved cryptocurrency advertisers to market on the popular social media platform. It appears that somehow scammers have found loopholes in Facebook’s policy.
Related Reading: Twitter on the Defensive, Blames Third-Party App for Recent Scams
One such way the scammers are able to spread their message via sponsored ads, is through existing popular accounts similar to what happens on Twitter.
There, a prominent user’s account – such as Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla – is hijacked and used to dupe users. In this case, musician Jonatanas Kazlauskas’ page was used to promote the scam. At this time, though, it is not clear if Kazlauskas’ 7.4K follower page was compromised or if the musician is directly involved in the scam.
Twitter has been plagued with similar scams throughout the year, and has mostly been defenseless against the swarm of scammers preying on social media users. Twitter recently said it had implemented some new security measures, which may have caused some scammers to seek Facebook as a new hunting ground.
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