Indian crypto exchanges, influencers fall prey to hacks promoting crypto scam

Indian crypto exchanges, influencers fall prey to hacks promoting crypto scam
Fake crypto token called One World Cryptocurrency infiltrates the YouTube accounts of Indian crypto exchanges and influencers Screenshot/YouTube
  • Exchanges like WazirX, CoinDCX and CoinSwitch Kuber were amongst the ones affected.
  • YouTubers like Arun Maini, who goes by MrWhoseTheBoss on YouTube, were also affected.
  • The scammers posted a video designed to promote a fake crypto token called One World Cryptocurrency.
Hackers’ interest in cryptocurrencies and those who follow the industry seems to be catching up with influencers and exchanges in India. Last night, Indian crypto exchanges found themselves in the middle of what seems like a sweeping hack of crypto and tech influencers worldwide. Amongst those affected were YouTubers with millions of followers, like Arun Maini who goes by MrWhoseTheBoss, and exchanges like WazirX, CoinDCX and more.

The hack didn’t start yesterday though. “I think someone just got into my YouTube account and posted something. Did anyone manage to get a screen recording?” Maini tweeted at 6:21 pm Indian Standard Time (IST) on January 24, a day before YouTube accounts for the crypto exchanges in India were hacked.

“There was a systematic hack on several crypto YouTube accounts around the world. Fortunately, our team caught the fraudulent video within seven minutes of going live on our channel and deleted it. On conducting a diagnosis, we did not find any security flaw from WazirX's end that could have given hackers access to our channel,” Rajagopal Menon, vice president for marketing at WazirX, told the Economic Times (ET) in a statement on January 25.

WazirX wasn’t the only exchange that was compromised either. Other exchanges, including billion dollar startups CoinDCX and Coinswitch Kuber, along with Unocoin, also confirmed the incident.

“Our security team was swift in identifying and taking down the fraudulent video posted on CoinDCX’s channel, limiting the video’s reach. For the few of our subscribers who saw the video before it was removed, please disregard all of its content,” CoinDCX said in a series of tweets posted yesterday.

What was the hack?

Like Maini and hacks of other influencers, it seems like the hackers really only posted fraudulent videos from these accounts. The video mentions something called One World Cryptocurrency, along with a wallet address. It’s designed to trick people into believing that the channel posting the video is advertising the token, and asks for deposits in Binance, Ether and USD Coin.

At the moment, it’s unclear how much the hackers were able to make through the scam. However, the nature of the video suggests that these hacks were parts of recent crypto scamming trends pointed out by firms like Chainalysis, security firms and other experts.

Crypto frauds on the rise

For instance, in a blog post on January 25, Checkpoint Security said that hackers were stealing crypto from users by exploiting the smart contracts feature to generate fake non-fungible token (NFT) projects and crypto tokens. The security researchers noted that scammers take to social media, like YouTube, Discord and Telegram, to drive up the prices of these tokens.

“They will open social channels, such as Twitter/Discord/Telegram, without revealing their identity or using fake identity of other people, and they will start hyping the project in order for people to start buying,” Is it a big stretch to imagine that one of these hacker groups decided to use already established channels instead of starting new ones from scratch?

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