Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, phishing scammers are masquerading as aid groups to solicit crypto donations, according to research published by cybersecurity firm Expel.
“Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, threat actors have specifically begun to impersonate legitimate aid organizations to exploit people’s desire to support refugees and victims with donations,” Expel said.
The cybersecurity firm’s research has unearthed several phrases in phishing emails that reference Ukraine, many of which target crypto donations specifically.
Some phrases include “Help—Bitcoin,” “Crypto—Account,” and “Help save children in Ukraine” as email subjects.
The actual text of these emails typically provides cryptocurrency-related instructions like “transfer Bitcoins,” as well as “now accepting cryptocurrency donations.”
“Given threat actors’ horrible appropriation of this conflict for malicious means and personal gain, those looking to provide financial support to victims of the invasion of Ukraine should confirm the legitimacy of any donation-related communications before providing financial information,” Expel also said.
Ukraine’s crypto donations
Expel isn’t the only organization raising concern around crypto-centric scams circling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Scammers also appear to be taking advantage of the current situation by tricking unsuspecting users wishing to donate to Ukrainian causes,” said blockchain analytics platform Elliptic. “Elliptic has identified a number of fraudulent crypto fundraising scams which are exploiting the current situation.”
Besides reminding donors to remain vigilant amid these phishing threats, Expel’s research also identifies millions of dollars in crypto that has been legitimately donated to Ukraine.
By February 25, 2022—a day after Russia invaded Ukraine—Bitcoin donations to aid the Ukrainian military surged to over $4 million, according to Elliptic.
By March 2, Ukraine’s official Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet addresses had received a total of $20 million. This figure then exceeded $50 million just one day later.
Later, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation Alex Bornyakov said crypto has been “essential” in aiding the Ukrainian army.
The deputy minister revealed these crypto donations had been spent on an array of military needs, including bulletproof vests, medicine, and helmets.
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