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Beware: Scammers use QR codes and Bitcoin ATMs to steal crypto

Beware: Scammers use QR codes and Bitcoin ATMs to steal crypto
Justinas
Baltrusaitis
Updated: 13 Aug, 2021
3 mins read

Cryptocurrency scammers are now leveraging QR codes at an increasing rate to lure victims into sending them digital assets through Bitcoin ATM transactions.

According to a report by Malwarebytes and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers are now targeting regular activities like utility bills payments to steal Bitcoin from victims. 

Under this new scam, the threat actors provide the victim with a QR code and direct them to a Bitcoin ATM to make the payment. Notably, this scam depends on the victim panicking and following their directions to make a payment. 

In one case, the perpetrator pretended to be from an electricity company. They threatened the victim they will shut off their electricity or other utility services if payment is not immediately remitted. 

According to the report, QR scams rose to prominence amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The most notable example where this is concerned is of course the pandemic. With the spread of Covid-19, people and organisations naturally wanted to move away from physical contact. Contactless cards were in, and so too were QR codes. This was fertile ground for scammers to move back into a pact they may have long since abandoned,” the report said.

Other forms of Bitcoin ATM scams

With the growth of Bitcoin ATMs globally, scammers have explored different means to steal victims’ money over the years. 

For example, notable scams saw fraudsters put homemade ‘out-of-order’ signs on Bitcoin ATMs, claiming that they are undergoing maintenance. Therefore, the scammers asked victims to scan the QR code attached to the sign and buy Bitcoins from the ATM.

However, the code links the transaction with the Bitcoin wallet owned by the scammers. In this case, the funds go directly to the scammers’ accounts.

In avoiding QR code Bitcoin scams, the report notes that people should remember that codes can also be untrustworthy, just like other web addresses. 

One notable means to detect fake code is when it directs to websites that require you to create an account.

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Justinas Baltrusaitis
Author

Justin crafts insightful data-driven stories on finance, banking, and digital assets. His reports were cited by many influential outlets globally like Forbes, Financial Times, CNBC, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Nasdaq.com, Investing.com, Reuters, among others.