Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

FBI Warning: Fake Cryptocurrency Apps Used to Defraud Investors

July 20, 2022

BleepingComputer reported on July 18 that the FBI has issued a warning that cybercriminals use fraudulent cryptocurrency investment applications to purloin funds from US investors.

The FBI estimates that cyber criminals have stolen approximately $42.7 million from 244 victims.

“The FBI has observed cyber criminals contacting US investors, fraudulently claiming to offer legitimate cryptocurrency investment services, and convincing investors to download fraudulent mobile apps, which the cyber criminals have used with increasing success over time to defraud the investors of their cryptocurrency,” the FBI said in its alert.

The agency identified criminals operating under several company names, such as Yibit (between October 2021 and May 2022) and Supayos aka Supay (in November 2021).

They convinced victims to install bogus apps and deposit funds into wallets the attackers claimed were associated with the victims’ app accounts.

Between 22 December 2021 and 7 May 2022, other cybercriminals impersonated a legitimate US financial institution to defraud dozens of other victims out of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency.

Once again, they used the same story, tricking victims into installing a bogus app and depositing cryptocurrency into wallets allegedly linked with the victims’ accounts on the app.

The FBI has previously warned cryptocurrency owners of criminals targeting virtual assets by impersonating crypto exchanges or a payment platform’s support staff.

The FBI Criminal Investigative Division and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also warned stock market investors in July 2021 about fraudsters impersonating registered investment professionals such as brokers and advisors.

The current alert from the FBI advised investors to be wary of prompts to install investment apps from unknown individuals, to verify that the company behind such apps is legitimate, and to treat apps with broken or limited functionality with suspicion.

It also recommends that cryptocurrency owners enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all their accounts, deny requests to use remote access apps, and always reach out to exchanges and payment companies using official phone numbers and email addresses.

Good advice, but as P.T. Barnum infamously noted, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., PresidentSensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:   Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology