In recent months, several people claiming to be Cointelegraph staff have paraded through LinkedIn and Telegram, as well as by email. These efforts often attempt to lure unsuspecting victims into sending payments in exchange for stories written about them or their companies and publishing them on Cointelegraph.
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Through work with blockchain analysis and the anti-money laundering company Coinfirm, Cointelegraph tracked some of this activity, shedding light on the situation.
„Fraudsters are relatively effectively using the identities of trusted or influential individuals, such as journalists, in a variety of ways to defraud crypto money holders,“ Coinfirm CMO and co-founder Grant Blaisdell told Cointelegraph July 16, referring to a violation that affected many high-profile Twitter accounts on July 15, as well as a host of other instances observed by his company over time.
Counterfeiters demanded payments
In March 2020, Blaisdell sent an email to Cointelegraph explaining that someone was posing as Cointelegraph staff through a Telegram account, requesting services in exchange for payment.
Blaisdell’s email is not the first time someone has flagged Cointelegraph staff with a similar situation. On multiple occasions, companies and individuals sent messages to staff on social networks, asking them about the validity of certain apparently suspicious correspondence they had received from what appeared to be Cointelegraph staff.
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For example, someone on social networks with a picture and biography of Cointelegraph staff may contact a person or company, offering to write and publish an article about the target company in exchange for payment. This is a red flag in itself, as that is not how Cointelegraph works.
Cointelegraph documented several victims and accounts
Cointelegraph has kept records of various impersonation efforts, pointing out specific victims, data and known impersonation accounts. Some incidents have gone as far as billing targets, with a known event involving an actual payment sent by a victim.
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Using Remitano, a digital peer-to-peer asset exchange service complete with custody parameters, the victim transferred approximately 0.044 Bitcoin (BTC), totaling approximately USD 444, to the impostor’s Bitcoin Evolution address at 3Nnfk8tZa3wBCgs9we7XecRQVHj4wUMdvQ, according to Coinfirm’s findings.
„The impostor’s address appears to belong to a Coinbase cluster and it can be assumed that they have an account at the exchange,“ Blaisdell said in a June 26 e-mail.