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MAGA Supporters Targeted By Crypto Scammers

Cryptocurrencies can be particularly useful for criminals because they are largely unregulated and don’t have the same constraints that traditional financial institutions do. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2023 Internet Crime Report, crypto

investment scams cost people some $3.94 billion. “Crypto is obviously a very good mechanism for criminals to use,” says Rob Duncan, head of research at Netcraft, a cybercrime detection firm. “There's no way to reverse payments; once the money's in the criminal's wallet, it's gone.”


According to reporting for WIRED magazine by Vittoria Elliott, in the weeks that followed the Trump campaign’s announcement it would begin accepting donations in cryptocurrency, the cybercrime detection firm Netcraft found dozens of scam websites seeking to target Trump supporters and swindle them out of their crypto.


Ms. Elliott reported Netcraft found that in the days leading up to the announcement, scammers registered domains with common misspellings, hoping to capture supporters intending to access donaldjtrump.com. One fake domain registered to donalbjtrump.com was a near perfect replica of the actual Trump campaign website. And while the Trump campaign accepts donations via Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, some of the scam websites instead appear to be using portals meant to look like Coingate, a blockchain and crypto payment processor.

 

“As a victim, the fact that the real campaign is using Coinbase payments rather than direct cryptocurrencies” wouldn’t be very obvious, Mr. Duncan told Ms. Elliott, “The way it's been advertised is ‘Donald Trump's taking cryptocurrency donations,’ when actually that's quite it's a bit more subtle.”

 

A second surge of fake websites appeared immediately after Trump’s politically motivated conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records to pay off the porn star Stormy Daniels. “In the hours after his conviction, the campaign raised more than $34 million in donations. Cybercriminals seemed to anticipate this interest, and were ready to capitalize on the donations pouring into the Trump campaign in the wake of the verdict,” reported Ms. Elliott.

 

Davey Winder, a Senior Contributor for Forbes reported that Duncan said what is smart about the scammers is that they are actively monitoring every move in the Trump campaign story and “making strategic adjustments to improve the scam.” For example, the site mentioned above started with content including a message from Trump accusing opponents of a witch hunt and asking for donations. However, following the May 31 trial verdict, the content was changed to adopt the ’Never Surrender’ campaign narrative. The real Trump campaign raised over $50 million in a single 24-hour period after the guilty verdicts. While Netcraft doesn’t say how much the fraudsters made, it’s likely to be significant if even a small percentage of Trump supporters were taken in.

 

“Criminals like to use events like this, to base their scams on topical events, things that people are interested in, where people are more likely to click on links,” says Duncan. In the wake of the October 7 attacks and subsequent conflict in Palestine, Duncan says Netcraft identified several donation scams, targeting people on both sides of the conflict.

 

“They're interested in getting cryptocurrency from anybody. And they're not bothered about which political persuasion they might have,” Duncan told Elliott.


Mr. Windar reported another scam example, which can be filed under if it sounds too good to be true, depending upon your political persuasion, is an offer to win dinner with Trump for $2,000 at Mar-a-lago. Again, copying the genuine campaign site layout as far as donation options are concerned, the fraudulent site adds a competition element, with those donating at least $2,000 having the chance to win the dinner date prize.


Initially not a fan of cryptocurrency, Ms. Elliott noted before his campaign’s announcement in May, Politico reported that Trump held a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with crypto traders where he apparently told them a Trump administration would not oversee the same regulatory scrutiny on crypto that the Democratic Party has sought. As the crypto industry has begun amassing money to attack candidates who favor more regulation of the space, however, some Democrats have backed away from a more hard-line stance.


Digital asset regulation has been one the key, but underreported, issues on the campaign trail so far, “with Trump widely adopting a pro-crypto stance whereas Biden has largely favored increased regulatory measures,” reported Julia Smith in a column for CryptoNews.com.


In December, reported Ms. Elliott, several leaders in the crypto space launched three political action committees (PACs) aimed at backing candidates with policies friendly to the digital asset industry. David Bailey, CEO of BTC Inc., told CNBC that the crypto industry was committed to raising “$100 million and turning out more than 5 million voters for the Trump reelection effort.”



  • Cryptocurrencies

  • Coingate

  • Financial institutions regulation

  • FBI

  • Crypto scams

  • cybercrime detection

  • scam websites

  • MAGA supporters

  • fake domains

  • coinbase

  • Trump donations

  • Trump conviction

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No denying MAGA supporters are very gullible and incapable of critical thinking.

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