In what could arguably be considered the worst bitcoin heist in cryptocurrency history (at least, that’s what some analysts are saying), scammers attempted to con users of bitcoin ATMs in Canada using phony, homemade out of order signs.
Bitcoin ATMs Served Little Purpose in This Case
How does that work, exactly? It seems like people who see a sign that says “out of order” would be deterred from using the machine. They’d turn away and try to utilize another machine or decide against their transaction. Well, apparently things didn’t quite stop there. These allegedly non-functioning machines also came with signs asking customers to scan a QR code that was attached to the machines so that they could “still purchase bitcoins.”
The idea was that anyone who bought bitcoins through the QR code would attach themselves to a bitcoin address owned by the thieves. Thus, any money unsuspecting persons bought would ultimately wind up in the hands of the criminals.
One can see from first glance that this con makes no sense. You put a sign on a machine saying “out of order” to give people the impression that any time spent on or with the machine is wasted, yet you still ask them to scan a code so they can purchase more crypto units? People proved “too smart” to fall for this ridiculously silly ploy, and the hackers have thus far walked away with nothing.
The good news is that only two signs were hung on two different machines, so the hackers didn’t try to initiate anything too serious. Maybe they, themselves, didn’t entirely trust their own plan or lacked confidence somehow.
Nevertheless, the police still got involved in the case and put up warning signs on the machines granted anybody couldn’t fully understand what was going on (thankfully, this wasn’t the case).
Usually, Crypto Theft Has Had More Brains Behind It
This isn’t the first time that scammers have utilized cryptocurrency ATMs to get their fingers on funds that weren’t theirs. A similar scenario occurred in Australia last year, when cybercriminals tried to scam immigrants who were using bitcoin ATMs. The ploy involved telling the immigrants to place fiat money into a bitcoin ATM and convert it to cryptocurrency, which they would then have to send to a specific cryptocurrency address. This would serve as a special “tax debt” and excuse the immigrants from deportation.
Most other forms of cryptocurrency theft occur in ways that are more complicated, such as SIM-swapping or phony initial coin offerings (ICOs). The former involves bribing employees of a person’s cellphone provider to garner their passwords and user information for mobile accounts (i.e. crypto accounts), while the latter involves raising money for a new venture or startup only to make off with the funds before the business ever comes to fruition (probably because it never existed).