2021 could be a record-breaking year for giveaway scams.
The latest Bitcoin giveaway scam to pop up on Twitter has claimed a massive victim last month, with a German man telling BBC that he sent 10 BTC, worth over $550,000 at press time, to the scammer believing it would double his money.
Another Elon Musk giveaway scam claims first victim
While cryptocurrency scams have been around as long as cryptocurrencies have, it’s not often that a relatively simple Twitter giveaway manages to accrue as much as 10 BTC.
However, this is exactly what happened at the end of February, when a scammer impersonating Elon Musk on Twitter managed to dupe a man out of over $550,000 worth of bitcoin. According to a report from BBC, scammers replying to Musk’s tweet “Dojo 4 Doge” on Feb. 24 shared links to a fake giveaway. The links led to a professional-looking website that promoted an offer in which people could send Musk BTC and receive twice as much in return. The website offered to double quantities between 0.1 and 20 bitcoins.
The now-deleted Medium page alleged that Tesla’s marketing department was organizing the giveaway. Users that sent 4 BTC or 150 ETH were promised a Grand Prize in the form of the latest Tesla Model S.
2021 could be a record-breaking year for giveaway scams
According to BBC, giveaway scams have already made more than $18 million in the first quarter of the year. This is a significant increase from 2020 when scammers made $16 million for the entire year.
And it’s not just the scamming volume that’s increasing—it’s the number of victims, too. Data from cryptocurrency analytics company Whale Alert suggests that the number of victims in 2021 will eclipse the previous three years—in 2020, around 10,500 fell for the scams, while the first three months of 2021 already claimed 5,600 victims.
Frank van Weert, the founder of Amsterdam-based Whale Alert, said that was impossible to say why the scams have increased both in numbers and in success.
“We don’t have any data to explain it, but it could be related to the wider Bitcoin market. When the Bitcoin price goes up, people go crazy and a lot of them are new to the market and they want this idea of quick money,” he explained.