It’s little surprise that a digital currency scam based on the popular Squid Games series on Netflix is making the news.
If you haven’t caught wind of it yet, the story goes along the following lines:
- It appears that scammers created a bogus cryptocurrency called Squid Game to capitalize on buzz around the show. They then used the attention-getting name to lure paying investors, which rapidly drove up its value.
- As the value of the bogus Squid Game coin peaked, the scammers quickly cashed in their coins to the tune of an estimated $3.3 million, which then saw the cryptocurrency’s plummet down to less than a penny per coin, leaving investors in the lurch.
- Gizmodo initially broke the news that the Squid Game cryptocurrency had tanked, just days after the outlet warned its readership that it was a likely “rug pull” scam where investors quickly exchange their cryptocurrency for real money and effectively drain the exchange of value.
Note that this Squid Game cryptocurrency had no relationship to the show or to Netflix, aside from hijacking the Squid Game name without permission so that the scammers could use it as bait.
The Squid Game scam: one of many cryptocurrency scams
Scams such as this are nothing new. Earlier this year, an “initial coin offering” (ICO) called Mando turned out to be a scam as well. Based on Disney’s popular Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, the scammers used the name and the Star Wars-themed imagery around it without permission. Then, just as suddenly they used the popular name to drum up investments in the ICO, the scammers disappeared with the money they garnered from the “pre-sale” of the bogus Mando cryptocurrency.
With all the fervor around cryptocurrencies, scams associated with them are on the rise and have been for some time. A study published by Investopedia found that 80% of cryptocurrencies are scams and that only 8% of cryptocurrencies make their way onto legitimate trading exchanges.
In the case of the Squid Game cryptocurrency, there were several apparent signs that it was bogus to begin with. Reports call out the fact that the currency was not available for purchase on mainstream platforms. Instead, investors could only purchase the cryptocurrency on a platform that doesn’t guarantee the transactions made upon it. Further, investors could only buy the currency, not sell it, effectively locking them in.
Other indications were found in the accompanying website and technical white paper, which were laden with spelling and grammatical errors, along with apparently unsubstantiated claims. In all, red flags such as those are very similar to the ones associated with phishing attacks—where scammers co-opt the identities of well-known brands and organizations in bogus emails and websites, albeit in an often-clumsy fashion. Errors like those are often a telltale sign that something sketchy is afoot.
Protecting yourself from cryptocurrency scams
1. Working with an accredited financial adviser is always a sound step with any investment you choose to make, as is only investing funds you can afford to lose if the investment falls through.
2. Steer clear of cryptocurrency investments that ask you to contribute money directly from one of your own accounts rather than via a reliable platform that is verified.
3. Consider dependable cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin—of course recognizing that even legitimate cryptocurrencies can be highly volatile investments.
4. Regard any cryptocurrency based on a pop culture reference like movies, memes, and shows with a highly critical eye. It may very well be a scam built around buzz rather than an earnest attempt at launching a legitimate cryptocurrency, such as it was with the Squid Game scam.
The game where only the scammer are the winners
Just as Netflix’s Squid Game is one in a long string of hit shows that’ll capture our attention, we can count on a similarly long string of cryptocurrency scams to continue. In this case, the Squid Game cryptocurrency scam was rigged from the start, despite the warning signs. After all, an investment people can only buy into but never sell is scam, plain and simple.
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