Sharp rise in these asset scams in South Africa

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    Nat Quinn
    International cybersecurity company Kaspersky has seen a 40% increase in the number of phishing scams relating to cryptocurrency.
    According to the group, over the course of 2022, it prevented 5 million crypto-related phishing attacks. This took place while there was a notable decrease in the detection of traditional financial threats such as banking and mobile financial malware.
    Kaspersky said that the financial landscape has seen cybercriminals shifting their attention to new areas, including the crypto industry.
    Cryptocurrencies are still largely seen as a way to get rich quickly with minimal effort – opening the floodgates for scammers to take advantage of vulnerable victims.
    “This increase in crypto phishing could be partially explained by the havoc that occurred on the crypto market last year. It is still unclear if the trend will continue; this depends on the trust users place in cryptocurrency,” said the company.
    Kaspersky said that although some traditional cyber tricks are being used, such as fraudulent giveaway scams or fake wallet phishing pages, a recent scam uncovered by the company is unique.
    The latest scam involves a user receiving a PDF file in English by mail, stating that they allegedly registered on a crypto cloud mining platform a long time ago and need to urgently withdraw their assets because the account is inactive.
    Contained in the mail is a link to a fake mining platform that the user must fill in personal information, including card and account numbers. The user is also urged to pay a commission through a crypto wallet or directly to the specified waller.
    “The file contains a link to a fake mining platform. To withdraw the crypt, the user must fill out a form with personal information, including the card or account number, and pay a commission, in this case, through a crypto wallet or directly to the specified wallet address.”
    On 20 October 2022, crypto assets were officially listed as financial products in South Africa, making it easier for regulators to monitor and safeguard customers.
    This move by the government aimed to formalise the trading platforms and bring the industry into the preview of South African law. According to a global study from CoinJournal, South Africa ranks 10th in the world for the number of crypto startups, investment companies involved in crypto and estimated realised gains.
    CoinJournal found that most South African cryptocurrency owners are between the ages of 18 and 44 – with 46% of them owning more than R10,000 in crypto assets and 12% more than R100,000.
    To best protect one’s digital assets, Kaspersky recommends:
    • Be cautious of phishing scams: Scammers often use phishing emails or fake websites to trick people into revealing their login credentials or private keys. Always double-check the URL of the website, and don’t click on any suspicious links.
    • Don’t share your private keys: your private keys unlock your cryptocurrency wallet. Keep them private and never share them with anyone.
    • Educate yourself: stay informed about the latest cyber threats and best practices to keep your cryptocurrency safe. The more you know about protecting yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to prevent cyber-attacks.
    • Research before investing: before investing in any cryptocurrency, research the project and the team behind it thoroughly. Check the project’s website, white paper, and social media channels to ensure that the project is legitimate.
    • Use security solutions: a reliable security solution will prevent all known and unknown cryptocurrency fraud, as well as unauthorised use of your computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency.


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