As the world of cryptocurrency keeps evolving, so too do the tactics of those who exploit its users. Recent findings from Sophos, a global leader in next-generation cybersecurity, reveal that scammers have been increasingly refining their methods.
These unsavory individuals have incorporated AI chat tools into their deception and added a new twist to their coercion tactics. Shockingly, seven fake cryptocurrency investment apps have found their way into Google Play and Apple App Stores, potentially ensnaring more victims.
Cryptocurrency Scams and the Rise of Investment Fraud
The advent of cryptocurrency opened up a new frontier for investment fraud. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), in 2022, investment fraud resulted in the highest losses reported by the public, totaling $3.31 billion. A significant portion of these scams, increasing by a staggering 183% from 2021, involved cryptocurrency, leading to $2.57 billion in reported losses.
One prominent scam, known as the “CryptoRom” or “pig butchering” scam, uses dating apps to trick victims into making bogus cryptocurrency investments.
The fraudsters have recently added a new tool to their arsenal, namely an AI chat tool—most likely ChatGPT. The discovery came to light when a victim contacted Sophos researchers after falling prey to the scam. This incorporation of AI technology enables scammers to carry out extensive and convincing conversations, making their deceptive practices seem more authentic and less labor-intensive.
The Rise of Fake Cryptocurrency Investment Apps
Sophos researchers have discovered seven fake cryptocurrency investment apps lurking in the official Google Play and Apple App stores. These seemingly innocuous apps present users with a bogus crypto-trading interface upon opening.
The scammers managed to bypass the stringent Apple App Store review process by initially submitting the app with legitimate content. Once approved and published, they alter the server hosting the app to include code for the fraudulent interface.
The striking similarities among these new apps, including their templates and descriptions, suggest they were likely created by the same fraudulent ring. This infiltration of official app stores indicates an alarming trend, as it provides fraudsters with an easier pathway to target unsuspecting users.
As cybercrime continues to evolve in sophistication, it is more crucial than ever for users to stay vigilant. With fake apps infiltrating official app stores, even the most discerning users can fall prey to these deceptions. As we await actions from Google and Apple regarding these illicit apps, it is essential to scrutinize every app thoroughly before installation, particularly those involving cryptocurrency investments.