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In 2021, cryptocurrencies witnessed a massive expansion in several parts of the world, including India. Around 100 million Indians are reportedly experimenting with the crypto space at a time when the government is still deliberating its official stance on cryptocurrencies. Impacted by a lack of research and awareness, many crypto-enthusiastic Indians are finding their ways on scam websites, a new research by Chainalysis has claimed. In 2021 alone, fake crypto websites registered 9.6 million visits from India, the report has claimed.
With the boom of the crypto space, the cases of cyber criminals scamming innocent investors have risen worldwide in recent times.
The top five scam crypto websites visited by Indians in 2021 included Coinpayu.com, Adbtc.top, Hackertyper.net, Dualmine.com, and Coingain.app, as per a report by Mint citing Chainalysis data.
Many of these website are created to unlawfully collect the personal information of the visitors without their consent or knowledge. Names, emails, and phone numbers among other sensitive details of potential crypto investors are often collected by these malicious websites, exposing them to the risks of being scammed again.
Some of these scam websites also offer fake investment plans to crypto investors leading to cases like the Morris Coin fraud.
Earlier this month, for instance, at least 900 people were identified to have been defrauded out of over $161 million (roughly Rs. 1,200 crore) in Kerala owing to a crypto scam. The victims were reportedly lured into investing in an “initial coin offering” issued by a Kerala man for a non-existent cryptocurrency called the Morris Coin.
Scammers have also been contacting potential crypto investors using mainstream networking apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
In November last year, the official Twitter account of Shiba Inu cryptocurreny had alerted investors of a money duping scam making the rounds on Telegram.
The Chainalysis report has however noted that the number of Indian visiting fake crypto websites has dropped substantially from 2020. Two years ago, Indians visited crypto scam websites more than 17.8 million times.
In a bid to spread awareness around the crypto sector in India, several industry bodies are taking measures in their respective capacities.
Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), for example, formed the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC) in 2021 to spread information around cryptocurrencies.
Telangana state authorities have also inked deals with exchange CoinSwitch Kuber and innovation management firm Lomos Labs to mark the blockchain education-focussed initiative in India.
Indian crypto exchange platforms such as CoinSwitch Kuber have also added warning features on their platforms to alert investors when they are considering the purchase of any volatile or relatively unfamiliar cryptocurrency.
Crypto scams mooched off over $7.7 billion (roughly Rs. 58,697 crore) from investors last year, a report by Chainalysis had revealed in December.
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