Scammers Use Google Ads To Steal $ 500,000 In Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity in recent years, but they are quite inevitable in 2021. Bitcoin has jumped between record highs and shocking lows, Dogecoin has made a bunch of people rich, and Ethereum is fueling the rise in NFTs. On the other hand, scammers also take advantage of unsuspecting crypto investors with clever scams.
Crypto scams take advantage of Google ads
According to Check Point Research, hundreds of investors have lost money trying to download crypto wallets. As the researchers note, MetaMask and Phantom are two of the most popular wallets for Ethereum and Solana, respectively. They both offer browser extensions that make it easier to send and receive cryptocurrency. CPR reports that MetaMask has over 10 million users, so it’s no wonder the crooks chose to build a complete phishing system around the wallet.
Over the past weekend, CPR found several phishing websites that mimicked popular crypto wallet sites. For example, the official website for the Phantom Wallet is phantom.app. The crooks have created websites with similar domains such as phanton.app, phantonn.app, and phantom.pw.
At this point, you might be wondering how someone ended up on these bogus websites in the first place. This is what makes this scheme so unique. As CPR explains, the crooks used Google ad campaigns to get their phishing sites to show up in search results. Alarmingly, because they were ads, they appeared before the entries of the legitimate websites they emulated.
How crooks steal your cryptocurrency
If you searched for the keyword “ghost”, you may have seen an ad at the top of the results for phanton.app. Clicking on it will take you to a page that looks like the actual Phantom wallet site. When you start to create a new wallet, the site generates a secret recovery phrase. In reality, this is the payback phrase for your crook’s wallet. Finally, after creating a password (which the scammer steals), saved and continued, you will be taken to the real Phantom site.
On the legitimate site, Phantom will ask you if you want to add the wallet extension to your Chrome browser. If you choose to do that and use the scammer’s phrase, you’ll log into their wallet, not yours. If you try to transfer funds, the scammer will steal the money.
According to CPR research, crooks stole more than $ 500,000 in cryptocurrency last weekend using tricks like these. There are similar phishing sites that are designed to look like the MetaMask website. You can watch a video of the scam in action below so you know what to watch out for: