Fraudsters have been targeting internet users in Russia with an email campaign advertising the launch of an alleged cryptocurrency issued by the state. According to Tass news agency, quoting cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, the emails claim that Russia is launching a state-issued coin and encourage recipients to follow a link to the website of the investment program for the coin. The site offers visitors the chance to invest in the project and earn even more in the future, but this is all a hoax. In reality, the deposits made by victims go to the scammers, with investors not receiving anything back, and running the risk of compromising confidential information shared with the website. Several thousand of these letters had been sent by the end of February, the anti-virus provider revealed.
Russia has been working on a project to issue a digital version of the nation’s fiat currency. The digital ruble will be the third form of Russian money besides cash and electronic bank money, and it will be used for payments, not investments. In February, the Central Bank of Russia announced that it plans to start testing it with real users and transactions on April 1, aiming for a full launch in 2024. However, Russia has yet to comprehensively regulate decentralised cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
Andrey Sumin, technical director of the business unit at Russian tech giant Mail.ru, reported that the company’s anti-spam systems block over 200,000 emails from crypto-linked scams every day. Of these, around 15% are disguised as letters supposedly sent on behalf of regulators. To avoid becoming victims of fraud scams like these, experts recommend that users improve their digital literacy in the first place, use a security solution for their smartphone and PC, be careful with email content, and refrain from clicking on links from unknown sources or entering sensitive data on suspicious websites.
Investors and traders in the crypto space should pay attention to fraudulent schemes and be vigilant about suspicious investment offerings, especially those impersonating regulators. Scams not only damage our trust in the currencies and platforms themselves, but also expose victims to significant financial losses caused by fraudulent and illegal schemes.
Overall, the incidence of fraud schemes involving cryptocurrencies is on the rise globally. According to a report by Chainanalysis, between June and July 2020 alone, fraud-related losses reached as high as $10m a day globally. Financial fraud and crypto scams remain one of the biggest challenges for the crypto industry. Some types of fraud, such as fake offers of Bitcoin giveaways, have even been seen on popular social networks like Twitter. Meanwhile, regulators worldwide are trying to improve their oversight of the burgeoning crypto markets.
The Russian government has been among the most active in developing cryptocurrency regulation, though it has not yet implemented a comprehensive legal framework for it. In August 2019, President Vladimir Putin signed an order requiring the government to place regulation of digital assets on the agenda. Since then, the State Duma has passed several bills related to cryptocurrencies, including one legalising crypto trading platforms, and another prohibiting the use of crypto as a means of payment.
In conclusion, it is important for investors in cryptocurrency markets, especially those in countries which do not have a comprehensive regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies to keep updated with news and remain vigilant to avoid financial losses as a result of these fraudulent schemes.