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The Guardian: Australian bitcoin scam websites registered to Russian residents

Tens of thousands of Australians have suffered from fraudulent investment offers using images of local celebrities. The scheme is tied to five addresses in central Moscow. The Guardian writes about it.

This type of scam was first reported back in 2018, but has been given a new lease of life during the pandemic.

Under the guise of an advertising or news publication about investing in cryptocurrency, the user is offered to register on a website. After entering personal data, the would-be victim receives a call from representatives of the „investment company“ and is persuaded to invest around $250 in the project. Over time, the amount increases.

One of the victims of the scam scheme said she had transferred over $80,000 to a certain exchange called Jubiter.

The Guardian journalists discovered another cryptocurrency trading platform called Gtlot, registered in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Five minutes after registering on the site, they received a call from a representative of the service from the Netherlands, who promised between $500 and $3,000 in monthly income after an initial investment of $250. The caller also added that the authorities intended to withdraw paper banknotes from circulation and advised them to hurry up with the investment.

Investigators discovered hundreds of domains through which the perpetrators distributed advertisements for their scheme. They were all registered to five people whose addresses are in central Moscow. Two of them use Gmail email. A Google spokesman said the information would be handed over to the company’s security service for investigation.

According to other information, the scammers may be linked to Ukraine. The sites do not allow Ukrainian phone numbers to be entered and a previous investigation by The Guardian found a call centre in Kiev advertising investment offers using images of celebrities.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission was able to trace the source of some of the ads – most of them are overseas, despite the use of Australian addresses and phone numbers on the site.

The Guardian describes the scheme as a „highly organised global business“, making it difficult for regulators to trace and block the Google search engine.

ForkLog previously reported on Finico, a company from Tatarstan that operated as a pyramid scheme. Between August 2019 and December 2020, under the guise of investing in cryptocurrency, it raised at least 80 million roubles. According to some reports, the actual losses could exceed several tens of millions of dollars.

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