Crypto Airdrop Scams: How to Keep Your Wallet Safe

Crypto coins

The hype is high whenever a new cryptocurrency is launched. Crypto enthusiasts are curious to learn more about the new coin and add it to their portfolios.

Fear of Missing Out is a huge motivator in the crypto space. During the Initial Coin Offering(ICO) phase, people hurry to get their hands on the newest, shiniest coins. Scammers are aware of this behavior and aren’t shy about exploiting it. Crypto scams are on the rise simply because criminals go where the money is.

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One of the most common scams in the crypto space is the Crypto Airdrop Scam.

Crypto airdrops, or free coins, are a marketing strategy used by developers of new cryptocurrencies to raise awareness about their products and increase their value. Crypto enthusiasts usually jump into action when they hear about an airdrop because these events have a limited time window.

Scammers take advantage of this behavior by setting up fake crypto airdrop campaigns aimed at gaining access to people’s crypto wallets.

Surprisingly, these phishing campaigns are more successful than you might think.

⇒ Quick Tip

Let’s explore how airdrop scams work and how to spot the red flags.

Crypto Airdrop Scams Explained

Crypto Airdrop scams are phishing attacks where scammers trick crypto enthusiasts into thinking they’re getting free cryptocurrency.

The scammers convince users to claim a fake airdrop, which directs them to a malicious website specially crafted to steal their credentials or private keys. To make the scam more convincing, scammers often use fake social media accounts that impersonate popular crypto social media profiles.

Image Source: Reddit

To claim the airdrop, users are prompted to connect their wallets to a malicious website and share their private keys.

Never EVER give out your private key. Keeping your investment safe should be your top priority.

Once the scammers have gained access to this information, they’ll quickly drain your crypto wallet. In some cases, when victims try to claim the airdrop, an error message pops up on the screen asking them to wait patiently until the request is validated or try again later due to unexpected technical issues.

Crypto Airdrop Scam Variations

The modus operandi described above is one of the most common tactics used by scammers. However, there are other variations of this fake crypto giveaway that you should be aware of.

Donations and Random Draws

Some scammers may ask for donations in exchange for more crypto coins. Unfortunately, these pitches are compelling, promising more cryptocurrencies than your initial investment.

Other scammers will prompt you to fill out a form to enter a particular contest or random draw that allows you to win additional coins. Of course, this is all done to collect more information about your wallet. Scammers use it to gain access to your funds or sell it on the black market.

Be skeptical of unsolicited offers for donations or contents and don’t share your wallet information with anyone.

Gift Tokens

Other scammers will send you gift tokens to spark your curiosity. But there’s a catch: to claim them, you must visit a fake website specially crafted to steal sensitive information about your crypto wallet.

The fake sites will ask you to approve a transaction request on your wallet. When you validate the request, you’re actually giving that website access to unlimited token approvals. When you do that, you not only let that website transfer tokens into your account, but you also permit it to take tokens.

⇒ Fun Fact:

Scammers have specifically targeted Reddit moderators, offering them access to tokens worth around one thousand dollars if they join a special “airdrop event.”

The text is always the same, they don’t even bother to change it. What does change is the name of the cryptocurrency offered.

Reddit airdrop scam
Image 1 Source: Reddit and Image 2 Source: Reddit

Impersonating Popular Crypto Social Media Profiles

Scammers often impersonate popular crypto accounts on social media to promote fake airdrops. The fake social media profiles copy the original account exactly. You need to take a close look to notice there’s something off. Otherwise, the fake accounts will pass as genuine.

These fake social media accounts are used as hooks to direct you to a malicious website that steals your wallet data. The fake website looks identical to the original at first glance, except the URL, which will be very close to the original website URL but never the same.

Fake Airdrop Claim Sites

Some scammers prompt you to verify your eligibility for the airdrop through your wallet. Naturally, this sparks your curiosity, and you quickly visit the fake claim website to check how many tokens you are eligible to claim. These sites often mimic legitimate airdrop promotions.

The catch is that to check your eligibility, you need to provide your private key or sensitive information. Once the scammers have this information, they can access and drain your wallet.

Pyth Airdrop NFT Eligibility Scam
Image Source: Reddit

Fake NFT Airdrops

Similar to fake crypto airdrops and free token strategies, another tactic worth mentioning is fake NFT airdrops. Scammers will send a phony airdrop alert to your wallet alongside the details to claim the free NFTs.

They’ll tell you that you’ve been given a voucher that makes you eligible to participate in the NFT airdrop or you’ve been given the chance to join the alpha-testing program.

fake NFT airdrop scam
Image Source: Reddit

In some cases, you may also find some zero-value NFTs in your wallet alongside the invitation to join the airdrop or a random contest to earn more NFTs.

How to Spot and Avoid Crypto Airdrop Scams

Never automatically connect your wallet to any website. Always double-check the website you’re about to connect your wallet to to make sure it’s legit and safe.

Never enter your private keys and seed phrases to claim any airdrop offer. Scammers can use them to authorize transactions from your wallet and even lock you out of your wallet.

Don’t trust promises that are too good to be true. If the airdrop offer promises you a million tokens, that’s definitely a scam.

Do your own research on the airdrop.

Read the documentation, review the whitepaper, check if reputable people are involved in the project. If there’s no information on the official channel about the airdrop, that’s definitely a major red flag.

Always check the official websites or social media accounts for confirmation before joining something that seems too good to be true. It often is, especially if the information was posted on an obscure website with a young domain age or a social media account created just a few days before.

By the way, you can use Scam Detector’s Validator tool to check if a website is safe.

If the domain was registered only a few days, weeks, or months before, that’s a strong indicator that it’s a scam. If the text advertising the crypto giveaway has grammar and spelling errors, that’s another red flag. Most scam projects are based in foreign countries and run by people who are not native English speakers.

Lido Finance crypto airdrop scam
Image Source: Reddit

Many scammers rely on the urgency tactic to get you to act fast so that you don’t have time to put all the pieces together. They’ll say the offer ends in just a few hours or 80 percent of the available coins have already been claimed.

If you get invited to an airdrop event via email, check the sender’s email address. You’ll notice it has nothing to do with the cryptocurrency service they’re impersonating.

What to Do When You Spot a Crypto Airdrop Scam

If you’re convinced you’ve come across an airdrop scam attempt, report it to cryptocurrency exchange platforms and authorities. Next, inform the team behind the real cryptocurrency that scammers are using their product as bait.

Don’t forget to spread the word about the scam on reputable cryptocurrency forums and social media pages to raise awareness among the cryptocurrency community.

Additionally, you can also report the phishing attempt to Google and file a Cyber Scam complaint with the IC3.

If, after thorough research, you still want to continue and claim the airdrop coins, do yourself a favor and use a burner wallet.

As a quick reminder, this is a one-transaction wallet that you should use when running risky transactions to limit your losses.

Have you ever come across fake crypto airdrop attempts? What were the elements that triggered the red flags for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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