DEA Falls for Crypto Airdrop Scam, Hands Fraudster $55,000 in Stolen Funds

The same federal agency that once helped bring down the biggest crypto-based dark web drug marketplace Silk Road got swindled by one of the oldest tricks in the crypto scammer playbook. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly handed a fraudster a little more than $55,000 in confiscated crypto funds after it was duped by a classic airdrop phishing scam.

Forbes first reported on a warrant put out by the FBI investigating the scam. Those funds were stored in a Trezor crypto wallet, a more secure kind of crypto storage than an exchange-based wallet. The funds were further secured inside a “secure facility.” However, since all transactions are public on the blockchain, a scammer noticed when the DEA sent a test amount of $45.36 in Tether to a wallet owned by the U.S. Marshals.

The alleged scammer then performed what’s known as an airdrop scam. Essentially, the fraudster created a new address with the first five and last four digits of the Marshals’ account. Each crypto wallet has a unique address that’s about 30 characters long. Then, the fraudster sent, or “airdropped” some Tether into the DEA’s account, which shows up as looking like it came from the marshal’s address.

This works because the two accounts seem similar, so any layperson who only looks at the first few and last few characters to confirm will simply copy and paste the whole address rather than type it out. Trezor actively warns its users against airdrop scams, though in most cases, fraudsters want to access the wallet’s entire balance through a website link. These scams usually work against users investing in a new coin drop, but eagle-eyed fraudsters looking at crypto addresses might get lucky with a quick phishing attack, as they did here.

Amid the confusion, the DEA ended up sending funds to the fake marshal’s address, and by the time the two separate Department of Justice agencies realized what had happened, the funds had already been moved out of the scammer’s account.


Source: DEA Falls for Crypto Scam, Hands Fraudster $55,000 in Stolen Funds

What the article doesn’t explain is why the Feds were sending around these wallets at all, considering they were supposed to be impounded and evidence?

Robin Edgar

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