Anatomy of a Scam (Scripted Chats)

By Abhijoy Sarkar | Ghumat Trading | 26 Mar 2019

$2.56 tipped


Telegram is the go-to place for most conversations on crypto. Therefore, nearly all leading projects have Telegram channels for sharing information with their communities. Consequently, it is also a happy hunting ground for scammers. Here's something that I came across on multiple channels that seemed interesting.

Modus Operandi: Several accounts join a channel simultaneously (experienced scammers use different times for multiple accounts to join so as to obfuscate this), they start a conversation out-of-the blue, place the bait (no links to prevent removal by anti-spam bots) and leave. In this particular case, I saw the same script being repeated across multiple channels almost simultaneously and with different actors in each channel. So I pieced together the script from one of the channels.

 

There are 3 parts to this script: The Hook, The Lure, The Catch

And

5 characters: Mr. Innocent, Mr. Concerned, Mr. Saviour, Mr. Concerned #2 and Mr. FOMOist.

The Hook: Scammers try to relate to the channel members with an all too familiar pain point. Losses in crypto. Especially for folks who bought at ATH (All-Time-High). It starts with an innocent (played by Roy G here) "I bought BTC at 18k. Now it's 6k. What do I do!!??" followed by a seemingly concerned (played by SNow2 in this case) person trying to help out with "useful info" on ways to make money back.

The Lure: This is when a saviour (played by Dorian Mason here) appears from the gang who starts with a quick money making solution like "copy traders". And then helps out Mr. Innocent with an innocuous PM for a link to a site that is the answer to his troubles. Innocent, after having "seen" the site, shows feigned surprise with "Wow! 1700% returns in a month!". Mr. Concerned, who has now gained a little trust with his "knowledge", backs up the site. And follows it up with a titbit of wisdom ("risk management is key"). The bait has been placed. Did you notice though that the site was never mentioned in the chat but concerned seems to know about it? The gang usually exits the channel at the end of this phase leaving one account (that didn't participate in the scripted chat) to look out for victims for The Catch.

The Catch: This happens entirely out-of-sight of the public. The bait placed in The Lure phase brings in hapless folks to saviour's or concerned's inbox asking for the link. And that is when they reel in their prey.

Remember, during all this there are 2 more characters who contribute to the Hook and Lure phases. Concerned #2 (played by Wim Velden here) weighs in with harmless comments during The Hook to relate to bystanders in the channel. FOMOist (played by Jum Bee2 in this case) jumps in during The Lure to pull more people into The Catch.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a scripted chat scam happens. If anything seems too good to be true, it usually isn't. Even more so for crypto. Stay safe!

 

About the Author:

Abhijoy Sarkar is a banker-turned-entrepreneur. He is part of The Ghumat Collaborative that tries to simplify crypto and blockchain for new folks.

 

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Abhijoy Sarkar
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