With attention continuing to surround the upcoming Telegram ICO, scammers are having a field day with fake site after fake site. To make things worse, the sites appear to be successfully scamming people out of tens of thousands or possibly millions of dollars.
One of the most well put together sites of its type just launched and is already scamming people by the bucket load. Read on to find out more about what’s happening, and how you can avoid getting scammed by a fake ICO site.
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Telegram ICO hype
Since the white paper was leaked back in January, the internet has been abuzz with excitement and interest in the upcoming Telegram ICO. Over the last few years, Telegram has arguably become the ultimate choice for cryptocurrency project communications. Just look up any cryptocurrency project and you will likely find a Telegram link.
Because of this special visibility in the cryptocurrency world, the Telegram ICO has garnered an unbelievable amount of interest. Many in the industry have suggested that the Telegram ICO could easily net more than $1 billion in ICO funding, making it one of the most largest and successful ICO’s to date if it comes true. The ICO, or crowdsale, is still quite a ways off though. Today, only specific, high net worth individuals are being given access to the presale.
With all this hype and talk of money flying around, it’s no doubt that the scammers used this to bait the hooks on their phishing sites.
The scammers attack
In an article that appeared on Techcrunch back on January 20th, a large number of fraudulent fishing sites specifically targeting the Telegram ICO were already observed. According to the article, one of the most prominent fake websites, gramtoken.io, had claimed to have already collected $5 million.
While that website is already off-line, another one seems to have taken its place. This one, ico-telegram.org, which uses exactly the same design as the one noted by Techcrunch claims to be 96% complete with its sale. When you click on the links to purchase the “gram” tokens, you are given a direct deposit address to send bitcoin or ether.
According to Etherscan, the address given has already received almost 30 Ethereum or about $26,000 as of today. The last transaction was just a little over an hour ago from when we checked. That transaction was for 3.04 ether.
When we checked the bitcoin address given by the phishing site, we found that it had no transactions and no balance. This, however, is not fully indicative that the scam site has failed to receive any payment. This is because the site could easily change the address each time a deposit is made.
The strangest thing about this scam is that it keeps trying to talk about what it calls “gram tokens”. The site falsely claims that these tokens are in fact the tokens that will be used by the Telegram network. The real tokens will most likely be called ‘TON’, for Telegram Open Network.
A new contender emerges
As we mentioned before, these sites seem to be popping up left and right. The latest one to appear is also arguably one of the most convincing. This one calls itself telegramfoundation.org.
The site has a very slick and convincing design style. It also lists all the information that a potential investor looking for the real Telegram ICO might be looking for. Unfortunately, it is a complete fake and only exists to steal money from unsuspecting would-be investors.
The looks much more professional on the surface. It does not simply present the visitor with a deposit address. Instead, a user must create an account and sign in.
A search for the website registration records reveals that the site was registered on February 12th. It was registered in such a way that the individuals behind it are not known. Instead only a hosting company can be found. The hosting company is based in Dominica and the registration company is from China. No other information is available.
Their modus operandi is clear. Trick people into thinking they are buying into what could be one of the hottest and most hyped ICO’s around. Then, take their cash and run.
How to avoid scams like this
In the cryptocurrency world, this kind of trick is not new. Phishing sites have pretty much always existed. Because it is so easy, and also, so irreversible, cryptocurrency has become the perfect target for scammers.
In order to not get scammed, it is extremely important that you understand what the correct web address is for the site you want to visit. Scammers have been known to pay web search engines like Google to put their site at the top of the results above the real site. MyEtherWallet is a common victim to this type of scam. In the case of Telegram, their official site is telegram.org.
Once you know you’re at the correct site, you now need to make sure that you get familiar with the terms of the ICO. For instance, you should know the name of the token, the dates of the ICO, and how to contribute correctly.
In addition to websites, it is paramount that you exercise even more caution when using a Telegram chat room for an ICO. In the last few weeks, scammers have been swarming Telegram chats for ICO’s and creating clone accounts to look like administrators of the various chat rooms.
They will then message you and ask you to send Ethereum or bitcoin directly to an address they will send you in the chat. This is almost always fraud. Great care should be exercised when someone on Telegram asks you to send cryptocurrency directly.
Featured Image via Fotolia & Telegram