Scammers eye Toncoin as Telegram-TON partnership grabs headlines

    2024.04.23 | exchangesranking | 72onlookers

    Telegram's public support for The Open Network (TON) blockchain and its intention to incorporate its native Toncoin token have led to scammers targeting unsuspecting tokenholders to exploit them.

    Information shared with Cointelegraph from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky outlines a cryptocurrency scam that has been attempting to steal Toncoins (TON) from Telegram users worldwide.

    According to experts at Kaspersky, the scam has been operating since at least November 2023 as interest and investments in TON surged. Scammers have been promoting an elaborate referral scheme that ultimately aims to steal TON tokens from users.

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    Potential targets receive a link from friends or contacts to participate in an “exclusive earning program.” The scammers then begin prompting victims to join an unofficial Telegram bot, purportedly designed to store cryptocurrency and to link their Web3 wallet to the bot’s system.

    At the same time, the fraudsters instruct users to purchase Toncoins through legitimate channels like the official Telegram bot, peer-to-peer (P2P) markets, or cryptocurrency exchanges, which adds an element of credibility and a false sense of security.

    The signup page for users to purchase boosters, which offering varying returns for TON deposits. Source: Kaspersky

    Victims are then coerced into purchasing “boosters” using a separate bot. The scammers claim that users must complete this action to start earning.

    This is the point at which scammers make their money. After purchasing a booster, the user irrevocably loses control of their cryptocurrency.

    “The costs of “boosters” – labeled by the scammers as “bike,” “car,” “train,” “plane,” or “rocket” – vary from 5 to 500 Toncoins,” Kaspersky’s experts explain.

    The scheme's booster tier with commissions offering returns typical of a pyramid scheme. Source: Kaspersky

    Users lose anywhere between $2 and $2,700 through the targeted pyramid scheme. After convincing users to purchase fake boosters, the scammers also tout a referral program that requires victims to create private Telegram groups with friends and contacts.

    Related: New Telegram mini-apps will be so convenient users won’t know it’s crypto

    The scammers provide a referral link that comes with its own video instructions for users in both Russian and English. Users are required to have five successful referrals in order to start earning through the fraudulent scheme.

    The scammers promise earnings from two sources, including a fixed payment of 25 TON for each invited friend and commission based on the booster tariff purchased by your referrals.

    “It turns out to be a classic pyramid scheme, in which each participant is a partner rather than a freeloader. Sadly, nobody profits except the scammers, and all “partners” lose their investments,” Kaspersky’s analysts explain.

    Cointelegraph has requested additional information from Kaspersky regarding the amount of users that have been affected and the total amount of funds that have been lost. This article will be update accordingly.

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