One of the most tried-and-true methods for luring people into a scam is to promise victims “insider” access to financial riches that ordinary people can’t get. It’s how Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff signed up thousands of eager investors for his too-good-to-be-true Ponzi scheme. Now it’s being used by scammers who promise their victims huge gains if they just install and use “special” smartphone apps meant only for insiders.
The scam is called “CryptoRom,” and it’s been around for a few months. As described by Sophos Labs researcher Jagadeesh Chandraiah yesterday (March 16), it’s a trifecta of malice, combining romance scams, cryptocurrency scams and malicious Android and iPhone apps — the latter of which are usually very rare.
Victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars in these schemes. Just one of the many Bitcoin addresses used by the crooks has gathered $1.3 million in ill-gotten gains; you can probably multiply that several times to get an idea of the total take.
The scheme initially targeted China, Japan, southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, but it has now jumped to western Europe and the U.S.
One victim told Sophos they themselves had been scammed, and said a friend was also “using [a] similar app called ‘UBS global’ + Binance.”
“They are providing trading in crypto,” the victim said. “Now when he tried to withdraw amount, they are asking for paid membership of $6,000.”
Don’t trust this love connection
Most victims are initially contacted through…