25.06.2021

Binance Helps UK Police to Stop $51 Million Phishing Fraud

On Sept. 26, Binance’s chief compliance officer Samuel Lim published a blog post saying that the exchange was working with the Cyber Crime Unit of the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service to investigate into Bulgarian phishing expert Svetoslav Donchev.

Binance claims to have assisted British prosecutors in an investigation of an online fraud that resulted in over $51 million losses by victims.

Criminal is now jailed

As officially reported by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Donchev, 37, was extradited to the U.K. from Bulgaria to face the online scamming fraud charges and pleaded guilty to five offences to receive a nine-year sentence on Sept. 20.

Half a million potential victims

According to the CPS, the criminal created website scripts designed to look just like the real websites of up to 53 U.K.-based legitimate firms to help criminals steal 41.6 million British pounds ($51.3 million). By imitating legal firms, other criminals were able to use his scripts to obtain personal data about clients of those services, which was later reportedly sold on the dark web.

According to estimations, the fraud potentially targeted 500,000 victims.

Staying informed to protect against cybercrimes

In the post, Binance outlined its commitment to ensuring that its community remains secure. Binance further expressed gratitude to British authorities for cooperation in combating cybercrime:

“We are thankful for the UK Metropolitan Police Service, as well as the many other agencies actively working with us, and other industry players, to continue our fight against cybercrime and sustain a healthy, legitimate market.”

Additionally, Lim offered Binance Academy’s Phishing Quiz for Binancians to try out, noting that the best way to protect against cyber criminals is to stay informed about potential security risks and good practices online.

In May 2019, Binance suffered a major hack that allowed hackers to steal 7,000 Bitcoin worth around $40 million at the time of the hack. As reported by Binance, hackers deployed a range of tactics including phishing and viruses to obtain a big number of 2FA codes and API keys through the hack.

Fake Royal Letter Asks $2.5M in BTC to Save UK’s Economy After Brexit

Scammers asked British citizens for nearly $2.5 million in Bitcoin, claiming that the funds will be spent to maintain the local economy after Brexit.

Physical letters vs emails

Fraudsters apparently sent out physical letters to the British, posing as a private secretary of Queen Elizabeth II, according to one of the alleged copies revealed by an exec of a local tech firm.

Paul Ridden, CEO at United Kingdom-based IT firm Smarttask, posted a picture of the letter on Sept. 24 on LinkedIn, chuckling about the apparently failed phishing scam and asking if anyone else have received something similar to that.

Dated Sept. 16, the letter claims that this is the second time so far when the Queen appeals to a “certain number of people to save Great Britain’s economy.” The letter says that the Queen’s part has already accumulated 82% of the 19 billion British pounds that must be paid to the European Union to save the economy.

High rewards promises

The letter claims that the “Royal House” is looking to borrow between 450,000 to 2,000,000 British pounds (from $550,000 to $2.5 million) from British citizens, asking the recipients of the letter to send money via Bitcoin.

In exchange for participation, the letter claims to offer the potential Bitcoin donors a 30% interest rate for a period of three months as well as the opportunity to become a Member of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

Following the news, British tech-focused publication IT Pro contacted Buckingham Palace, which did not reply to their comment request at press time. Ridden expressed confidence that nobody will send any Bitcoin to the fraudsters, calling the scam attempt poor due to the letter’s poor English, while also noting a reasonable level of financial awareness in Britain.

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