Hackers steal cryptocurrency worth $150,000; tricks people to participate in fundraising campaign

FILE PHOTO: A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017. Reuters

Hackers have stolen cryptocurrency worth $150,000 by tricking people to participate in a cryptocurrency Initial Coin Offering (ICO), a fund-raising pre-sale of an upcoming cryptocurrency, and guiding them to make payments into fraudulent wallet address.

The hacker targeted an ICO of Experty (EXY), an upcoming blockchain which has been scheduled for January 31 and promoted a fake token sale in its name. Many users couldn't identify the fake fund-raising campaign which was developed with a "Skype-like voice and video application" and hence, people fell into the trap.

Users who had already signed up for information regarding the ICO sale of upcoming blockchain based application, started to receive emails announcing a pre-ICO sale of the tokens.

It asked the users to send money to an Etherium wallet to buy the EXY tokens and to be a part of the ICO. The phishing emails contained offers of extra tokens for buyers who made their purchase within next 12 hours.

Buyers who believed in the email which contained spelling and grammatical errors transferred about 74 Etherium funds which value around $150,000 to the fraudulent wallet address in the mail.

The blockchain company later released warnings for buyers on Twitter. It speaks of the fraudulent activity and asks people not to fall victim to it and to beware. The warning statement said, "If you receive an email that looks like it is from Bitcoin Suisse or Experty asking you to send money IT IS A SCAM. The ICO is only through the Bitcoin Suisse website."

However, many people who have received the mails or have already lost money have expressed their frustration and loss through the social media platform.

A major complaint raised by buyers is the breach in security of the blockchain as the information regarding the buyers were hacked from the main website. Another blockchain wallet known as "Black wallet" had been hacked earlier this month. The cyber attackers looted digital currency worth $400,000 from its wallet.

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange You bit was shut down in December following two hackings in two months. Cryptocurrency mining market NiceHash faced a loss of $60 million Bitcoin during a hack in December. NiceHash co-founder Marko Kobal resigned after the loss.

China and South Korea have banned cryptocurrency exchange and there is a global demand to improve the security of the digital currency.

Bitcoin and other digital currencies have fallen earlier this month causing fears among its investors. Bitcoin has fallen below the value of $10,000 from $20,000 in a month.

This article was first published on January 30, 2018