Bitcoin has been one of the preferred digital currency for hackers and other cybercriminals. The main reason being the pseudonymity associated with bitcoin transactions which makes identifying the perpetrator difficult. Now, scamsters seem to have upped their game a notch by using bitcoin and WhatsApp in the same scam.
Recently many WhatsApp instant messaging service users were spammed with messages related to a penny stock. These penny stocks belonged to a lesser known bitcoin company. Many WhatsApp users received a message saying the stocks belonging to Avra Inc. is going to be lapped up by major Wall Street traders including investment banks like JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
The sender of messages allegedly identified himself as an employee of Morgan Stanley passing along a tip he received about these penny stocks. According to the message, the stocks were expected to see major gains in the coming days. There were reports of few messages claiming an impending buyout of the company.
According to Avra Inc.’s website, the company is involved in selling bitcoin ATMs and point of sale solutions. While the company’s SEC 10-Q filing for June 30 indicates that it has not reported any revenue since its inception in December 2010 and has liabilities of close to $245,000. Soon after the WhatsApp messages started circulating, the stock price shot up to reach $1.26 before gradually falling down to $0.23.
While many people who received the message complained about the company or whoever it was for flooding their inbox with spam, the increase in stock price indicates that few WhatsApp users might have fallen for it. Going by few interactions on Reddit, one of the Reddit user seems to have reported this incident to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The trading of Avra Inc.’s stocks continued for days after messages stopped before slowing down.