List of Bitcoin Scam Types

Bitcoin Scams
Unfortunately there are several types of bitcoin scams ongoing. If you're familiar with the most common scam types, then you'll be much less likely to fall for one.

Before you send bitcoin to someone you don't know, check the bitcoin address here to see if it's been reported as a scam. And if you've already fallen victim to one of these scams, please report it here so that others won't fall for the same trick. Then check out our scam recovery tips to see if you can get your stolen bitcoin back.
Bitcoin Porn Scam
One of the first scams to request bitcoin as ransom was the Email Porn Scam, dating back to at least 2017. It's also referred to as the "sextortion" scam.

The scammer sends spam emails claiming they have taken control of the victim's phone and used the camera to record them while viewing porn. The scammer requests a ransom in bitcoin, or else they will send the video to the victim's contacts and social media friends.

Of course, the scammer doesn't have any video or access to the victim's accounts at all. If they did, why wouldn't they simply access the victim's bank or credit card accounts directly? This scam is no longer as popular as it once was, but it's still in existence today.
Bitcoin Investment Scam
The most important advice we can give: you don't need someone to invest in bitcoin for you! You can easily buy bitcoin online all by yourself.

However, many people get drawn in by "brokers" that promise to double, triple or 10x your bitcoin if you send it to them. Our other advice: anyone who claims they can multiply your money in a short time is a scammer. Definitely. Whether it's bitcoin or dollars.

This should be obvious - if this person can make 10x on an investment in weeks, then why would they need your money? At 10x per month they would turn $1 into a million in 6 months. Why wouldn't they just do that for themselves and retire?

If the below sounds like your situation, then there's a good chance you're dealing with a scammer. Stop sending them money immediately.

  • You found an investment adviser via social media or other online method
  • After you invested, they claimed that your investment has grown significantly in value
  • But, in order to get your investment back you must pay a "withdrawal fee", "tax", "transfer fee" or similar
  • After paying this tax, they ask you to send funds again for a different type of fee
  • None of your initial funds, "profit", or fees are ever sent back to you
Bitcoin Celebrity Giveaway Scam
The celebrity bitcoin giveaway scam is similar to the investment scam, but with a celeb instead of a broker. Usually the scammer poses as a famous person such as Elon Musk to do a "giveaway" where they will match any bitcoin sent to an address 3x.

Why would Elon Musk need you to send him money first? Wouldn't he just give the bitcoin away if that's what he wanted to do? Always beware of great deals or giveaways that depend on you sending someone money up front.

Bitcoin Who's Who has received reports of Musk giveaway scams since 2018, but they have become more popular since late 2019. And it's not just Elon that's supposedly giving away bitcoin for no reason. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Joe Rogan and "Rich Dad" have all been impersonated in giveaway scams. We urge you not to participate in any giveaways you might see on social media if they require you to send bitcoin first - regardless of how trustworthy you think the celebrity is.
Bitcoin Fake Exchange Scam
This scam is similar to the Investment Scam above, but instead of contacting people directly via social media, the scammer sets up an app or website to lure in victims. The fake site may have a name or logo that looks similar to a trusted brand. For example, a fake exchange in Korea called themselves BitKRX to make it seem like they were a part of the official stock exchange (called KRX).

There have also been scams with fake wallet providers (such as the huge Plus Token scam) that promised free coins if you held your crypto on their platform. The fake wallet scams are Ponzi schemes where only a few early entrants will ever see any funds returned.

You should always research a wallet provider or crypto exchange before you sign up. Asking on Reddit or bitcointalk is a good start. You can also check the claims on their website. For example, many sites claim to have been in business for several years - but a check of their domain name will reveal that it's only been registered recently. You can also check our list of legitimate bitcoin exchanges.
Bitcoin Recovery Scam
This scam is particularly vile, since it preys on people that have already been scammed. There are now several websites that claim they can recover your stolen or scammed bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. However, recovering bitcoin is usually quite difficult, even if it's technically possible.

Of course, there are some companies that are legitimate and will help you gather all the evidence you need in order to assist the police and the exchange where the stolen funds are held. But - if you see a recovery service that is advertising "guaranteed recovery" or "98% recovery rate", then it's a scam. It's simply not possible to get stolen crypto back in every single case.

And don't just google "bitcoin recovery" and go with one of the top hits! Our initial research has found that many of the fake recovery services come up at the top of search engine results. The #1 top hit on Google for "recover stolen bitcoin" appeared to be a fake company on our last check.

So, be very careful about bitcoin recovery services, especially ones that make big promises. Bitcoin Who's Who is partnering with 2 services if you're looking for a place to start your research and get a consultation.
Bitcoin Ransomware Scam
Ransomware attacks usually involve hacking an individual's or a company's computer systems, then encrypting their files so they can no longer be accessed without a password. The scammers request a ransom in exchange for the password to unlock the the victim's systems. Examples include CryptoLocker in 2013, SamSam in 2016 and the WannaCry attacks in 2017.

These scams mostly target government entities (cities, government agencies, airports, etc.) or large corporations, but there have been some phishing attacks that have targeted individuals as well. To avoid these attacks, avoid clicking on files attached to emails, even if they appear to be from a trusted company at first glance. Package delivery notices are especially popular, so be very careful when clicking links or opening attachments in those.
Bitcoin Cloud Mining Scam
Companies selling "cloud mining" are offering to run their bitcoin mining rigs on a customer's behalf. The customer is meant to get a share of the bitcoin that the mining equipment produces. This seems like an easy way to get into bitcoin, but there are a few problems.

First, it's usually better to just buy bitcoin directly rather than pay someone to mine it for you. Also, the difficulty of mining bitcoin fluctuates and generally goes higher over time. So if you buy a contract that lasts a year, you might find that you were making much more at the beginning of the contract than you are at the end. The last problem is that many cloud mining companies are straight up scams/Ponzi schemes where the company has no intention of paying out on their promises.

Considering the significant risk of getting scammed, and the low chance of profiting even if you find an honest cloud mining company, we suggest buying coins directly rather than cloud mining.
Bitcoin Romance Scam
This scam isn't specifically bitcoin-related. But Bitcoin Who's Who has received several reports from victims that sent a scammer bitcoin, usually because they wanted to send money for plane tickets to a potential love match. We've also heard reports that combine this with the celebrity scam - the victims thought they were getting set up on dates with celebs.

If you have a special online friend that needs some money to come see you in real life - buy them tickets on your credit card. That way you're far more likely to get your money back if it's a scam.