Scammers eye Toncoin as Telegram-TON partnership grabs headlines

    24 Apr 2024

    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 Toncoin (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.

    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 Toncoin 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.

    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 explained.

    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.

    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 explained.

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


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