EVM Chains Lose Over $55M to Crypto Scams in January

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In January, the digital currency ecosystem witnessed a significant surge in phishing and crypto scams incidents across various Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains. ScamSniffer, a monitoring service, recorded approximately $55 million stolen across various EVM chains, including Ethereum, Arbitrum, BNB, Optimism, Polygon, Avalanche, and others.

The Crypto Scam Magnitude

These incidents, totaling approximately $55 million in stolen funds, affected over 40,000 victims with the top seven victims collectively losing $17 million. The frequency of thefts peaked, occurring almost every few days, with many incidents linked to airdrops or popular projects.

In 2023, a report showed that 320,000 people fell victim to popular cryptocurrency phishing scams that took approximately $300 million from them. This surge in amount is indicative of attackers deploying more sophisticated techniques.

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Targeted Chains and Projects

The Ethereum mainnet experienced the highest number of thefts, followed closely by other EVM chains such as Arbitrum, BNB, Optimism, and Polygon. According to ScamSniffer, approximately 11,000 phishing websites were targeted in January alone. The scam included eight active “Wallet Drainers” designed to siphon off assets from victims.

These attacks occurred despite Ethereum’s commitment to maintaining a robust and secure platform for decentralized applications raising concerns about users’ vigilance while online. These fraudulent websites impersonated well-known projects like Manta Network, Frame, SatoshiVM, and others, luring victims into unknowingly signing phishing transactions.

Mechanisms and Consequences

Phishing signatures such as ERC20 Permit or increase Allowance were among the primary methods used by attackers to deceive the crypto scams victim. Additionally, the malicious actors employed sophisticated techniques like Create2 to generate temporary addresses for each malicious signature, allowing them to drain all assets from victims’ wallets with just one fraudulent transaction.

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The collateral tokens associated with these thefts ranged from LP Tokens to NFTs, further worsening the financial losses incurred by victims. In December 2023, a video featuring former CEO and chairman of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor, created using artificial intelligence was circulated by fraudsters on YouTube, in an attempt to persuade owners of Bitcoin to surrender their holdings.

Analysts say these incidents call for increased vigilance and caution when engaging with decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms and projects. They also highlighted the urgent necessity for implementing robust security measures to mitigate the escalating risk of phishing and theft within the crypto space.

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