Steer clear of cryptocurrency recovery phrase scams

The dangers of cryptocurrency phishing are back in the news, after tech investor Mark Cuban was reported to have lost around $870k via a phishing link. Cuban lost a combination of coin types as asset movement flagged up after months of inactivity from his wallet.

Cuban discovered some of the transactions taking place and was able to save about $2.5m of tokens by logging in and sending what remained to a safe location.

As for the specifics of the phishing tactic deployed, Cuban is reported as saying he may have downloaded a bogus wallet tool via a search engine query. Accidentally falling victim to rogue downloads in search engine results is an ancient technique, but as we can see here, it paid off big time for the scammers. 

Fake tools and websites for cryptocurrency are common. You’ll see them in search engines, download portals, even promoted on social media.

As an example of this, a simple search for “metamask download” reveals sites claiming to offer MetaMask extensions for various browsers and mobile devices.

The MetaMask site is a secret recovery phrase phish. The site claims:

MetaMask cannot recover your password. We will use your secret recovery phrase to validate your ownership, restore your wallet, and set up a new password. First, enter the secret recovery phrase that you were given when you created your wallet. You can paste your entire secret recovery phrase below.

Of all the things you never want to do where cryptocurrency management is concerned, pasting your recovery phrase into a random website has to be somewhere near the top of the list. No matter the third party website, offer, video, service, or any form of giveaway: don’t do it. You’re handing the scammer the keys to your cryptocurrency kingdom.

It’s a similar deal for random extensions asking to connect to your wallet. You could well be granting access in ways that you’ll quickly come to regret.

Anyone can fall victim to a cryptocurrency scam, whether you’re just starting out or a billionaire tech professional holding a huge amount of digital currency in reserve.

Thanks to Jerome for finding this.

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Christopher Boyd

Former Director of Research at FaceTime Security Labs. He has a very particular set of skills. Skills that make him a nightmare for threats like you.