ANATOMY OF A TWITTER CRYPTO SCAM.
Beware of scams asking to connect to your browser extension crypto wallet.
They can drain your crypto before you realize what’s going on. And the scams can build whole authentic looking Twitter feeds (and / or other social media feeds) and websites around their ploys.
Which is funny in a way, considering how fast and thoroughly social media platforms have shown their ability to crack down on people and accounts expressing dissident political opinions or skepticism about controversial subjects like mRNA gene-level technologies.
One recent scam that reached my Twitter inbox consisted of an invite to take advantage of a supposed Quant Networks air drop of tokens, “to encourage tokenization” activity and projects on the network.
I had previously followed the official Quant Network twitter account. The message in my twitter notification inbox seemed “phishy,” to say the least.
When I clicked the link to the message’s “Quant Network” twitter feed, it took me to a pretty convincing knock-off of the official Quant twitter feed.
The feed contained a post advertising the airdrop of QNT.
The feed did not, however, have an authenticating “blue checkmark.”
A simple Twitter search brought me to the official Quant feed, showing the blue checkmark.
The official feed contained no post or mention of any airdrop of WNT tokens.
I investigated further, by going back to the original message in my twitter notifications inbox, and checking out a website link in the message.
I was taken to an official looking website that again, looked like a convincing knock-off of the official Quant website. Of course, the url of the website was not the url of the official Quant website.
The knock-off site asked to connect to my browser crypto wallet.
Twitter, of course, is hardly unique as a vector point for enticing people into crypto related scams. Bad actors utilize all social media platforms, especially the most popular ones for these ploys, because that’s where the people are.
Unfortunately, making people and organizations pay a monthly fee to retain their “blue checkmarks” on Twitter, potentially makes scamming easier for bad actors.
The vast majority of legit crypto companies and projects do pay their fee to have that important blue checkmark, so simply checking the official feeds of crypto projects is a good basic step to finding legit information concerning things like token airdrops.
Knowing and verifying the urls of official websites, and making sure you’re at an official website, when considering any crypto activity, is another must precaution.
Disabling browser-based crypto wallet extensions when not in active use is another precaution.
In addition, there are some tools that can help with identifying scam sites and attempted interactions with browser integrated crypto wallets.
Wallet Guard, an open source web3 security tool partnered with Metamask, is available as a web browser extension. It alerts users about phishing attempts and suspicious websites, and has other security features.
Shout out to the excellent Youtube crypto channel Crypto Casey for info on Wallet Guard.
BITCOIN NETWORK FEES TAKING A BIGGER BITE
Many investors purchasing and transferring bitcoin in recent weeks have probably noticed increased network fees.
Besides the fee rise from general increased transaction activity on the network, the recent explosion in popularity of bitcoin ordinals and so-called BRC-20 tokens have been contributing factors, according to makeuseof.com. (“2 Reasons Bitcoin Transaction Fees Are So High Right Now,” 5 May 2023.)
These related and relatively new types of bitcoin use both stem from aspects of bitcoin protocol upgrades in 2017 and 2021, including the bitcoin “taproot” upgrade that occurred in November of 2021. (See “WILL ‘TAPROOT’ UPGRADE HELP BTC REBOUND?” 18 May 2021.)
Taproot scripts added functionality to the protocol that have enabled creation of new non-fungible and fungible tokens. Only in the past year has this functionality burst fully into the crypto mainstream.
BRC-20 tokens fall into the category of fungible tokens. Though not as functionally featured as Ethereum based tokens, BRC-20 creations have caught on as meme coins, and are being created and traded.
Bitcoin ordinals are classed as NFTs. They can represent digital art, or even passages of text (up to 60 kb in size).
In other words, if you want to inscribe something indelibly on the bitcoin network, you can do it via a bitcoin ordinal.
There are different ways of creating a bitcoin NFT, some more complex than others.
One of the easier ways is to do it via a platform like Gamma (https://gamma.io/ordinals).
Meanwhile, decrypt.co has an excellent explainer article on the whole phenomenon. (“What Are Ordinals? A Beginner’s Guide to Bitcoin NFTs,” 1 May 2023.)
Reducing Network Transaction Fees
One of the most straightforward ways to try to reduce Bitcoin network fees on transactions is to buy and transfer bitcoin during “off-peak” hours.
According to trading site Forex, “Cryptocurrencies are most commonly traded between 8am to 4pm in local time.”
So trading late at night or early in the morning may result in lower network fees.
Some crypto exchanges offer Lastly, zero or lower fee cryptocurrency transfers, sometimes depending on the service level users can opt for.
But obviously, for U.S. users, crypto exchanges are limited, and some states are more restrictive than others as far as what crypto exchanges are authorized to operate in those jurisdictions.