Scammers are attempting to exploit cryptocurrencies donations in the Ukraine war

Scammers are attempting to exploit cryptocurrencies donations

The international community has reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expressing its support in form of cryptocurrencies with the Ukrainian people. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by scammers, who are all too happy to take advantage of people’s good intentions.

An emblem in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag appears on one scam email. It solicits donations in the form of US dollars and a few cryptocurrencies to a humanitarian organization. Other phishing emails request money to help children or to purchase weapons for the Ukrainian military.

Fake charity websites are also on the rise. Researchers from ESET, a Slovakia-based antivirus business, claimed they found a handful of sites with the colors of the Ukrainian flag and dramatic images of soldiers and explosions. According to ESET, the websites ask for “help,” but do not specify how the funds will be spent.

Phishing Email
A phishing email aiming to profit off the conflict in Ukraine by stealing money and cryptocurrencies.
pic credit: cnet

Ukraine-themed phishing emails and websites began appearing quickly after the Feb. 24 invasion that created one of Europe’s worst humanitarian crises in years, in a sad statement on mankind. In addition to the calls for assistance, scammers pretended to be wealthy Ukrainian businesspeople trying to transfer funds out of the country, a variation on the well-known Nigerian prince scam.

The scam activity, according to security experts, is to be expected. War creates all of the emotional responses that scammers use to separate people from their money, such as a sense of urgency.

“Wherever there is war, there will be jackals trying to piggyback on people’s misery,” said Bogdan Botezatu, a security researcher at Bitdefender.

Bitdefender, a Romanian cybersecurity firm, began detecting phishing operations the day after the attack began, according to Botezatu. Because Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in Bucharest, Romania’s capital, which is around 300 miles from the Ukrainian border, he has been acutely aware of their plight.

Be careful where you send your cryptocurrencies donations

There are a number of respectable organizations raising funds for migrants on the internet. The simplest approach to contact them is to type their URL into your browser directly or obtain a link from a reliable source. CNET keeps track of reputable NGOs that assist Ukrainians.

It’s worth mentioning that some legitimate nonprofits accept cryptocurrencies donations. Consumers, on the other hand, should be extra cautious when it comes to cryptocurrencies, according to Tony Anscombe, ESET’s chief security evangelist.

“I would avoid it unless it’s a real cryptocurrencies wallet from a very official organization,” Anscombe stated. “It’s impossible to tell who’s behind a cryptocurrencies wallet.”

Ukraine donation scam
ESET researchers noticed this fake website as an example of one of the scam websites.

While the flood of frauds can make it difficult for well-intentioned people, researchers advise donors to exercise the same vigilance they would before donating to any group.

Before making a donation, be sure the organization is credible. A fast Google search, as well as a lookup of the organization’s name in GuideStar or Charity Navigator, are useful places to begin.

If it comes from a stranger, ignore the request for money. Researchers predict an increase in romance-themed frauds, with scammers posing as Ukrainian women seeking asylum or assistance in leaving the country.

Consumers should also dismiss unwanted money requests and avoid solicitations that appear on social media, which is a popular channel for scammers to use.

Most important, resist any arguments that are based on a sense of urgency. Any organization that says it needs money immediately soon should be avoided.

“The need isn’t going away any time soon,” said Anscombe. “While there is a time limit, a genuine charity will accept your contribution whether it is made today or tomorrow.”

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