South Korean Crypto Exchange Pure Bit Exit Scams After Raising 13,000 ETH

South Korea cryptocurrency exchange Pure Bit has recently pulled an exit scam after raising a total of 13,000 ETH through an initial coin offering (ICO). At press time, the amount raised is worth $2.7 million.

The team behind Pure Bit reportedly remained anonymous as its ICO was based in South Korea, which banned the fundraising practice months ago. This gives projects the perfect excuse to remain anonymous, but makes it riskier for investors.

The team behind the scam seemingly shut down its website before moving the 13,000 ETH from its wallets, and kicked every member off of its Kakao group chat before posting “sorry” and “thanks” to its communication channels.

On Reddit, one user pointed out that things look bad for investors, who will likely have to try and follow the funds on the blockchain to try to get something back.

They have gotten rid of every evidence. Website hosted by fake name / out of Korea host / messenger / contacts were all fake too. Now their only hope is to keep on track with that ether and hope for the best.

The team behind Pure Bit has already deleted its social media accounts as well. It promised investors a Pure Coin, which would serve as the native token of its cryptocurrency exchange, and would pay holders regular dividends.

Those who used the coins while trading were reportedly going to be rewarded as well. To get more investors on board, Pure Bit was running an affiliate campaign that rewarded users extra tokens for bringing in new investors. The minimum investment amount was of 5 ETH.

The project’s ICO was set to end on November 30, but the team seemingly decided not to wait to pull the scam. As CryptoGlobe covered, exit scams have been regular this year, so much so that a report suggested they’ve taken over $100 million from investors.

Bitcoin ‘Sextortion’ Scheme Netted Cybercriminals Over $330,000

Blackmailers have reportedly managed to rake in over $330,000 worth of bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, through an email-based ‘sextortion’ campaign that has been ongoing since at least 2017, and saw its activity surge last year.

According to a report published by UK firm Digital Shadows, the cybercriminals received said amount from over 3,100 unique BTC addresses. The funds ended up in 92 different bitcoin addresses believe to belong to the same organization, that could reportedly be making an average of $540 per victim.

The firm’s report, first spotted by The Next Web, tracked a sample of 792,000 emails sent to victims. The ‘sextortionists’ reportedly sent them an email that would include a known password as “proof” they hacked them, and claimed to have video evidence of them seeing adult content online.

The threat was that the video would be published online, if a ransom in BTC wasn’t paid. Last year, Cornell University computer science professor Emin Gün Sirer warned potential victims to “never pay, never negotiate” with cybercriminals trying to extort them.

Per Sirer, the emails were being sent to every email account on the popular website haveibeenpwned, which shows whether emails addresses had their data leaked on well-known online security incidents.

A Sophisticated Operation

The UK firm’s report seems to show the ‘sextortion’ operation was a sophisticated one, as scammers were seemingly trying to hire more people to help them target high-net-work individuals.

These hires could be getting high salaries, up to $768,000 a year, if they had experience in network management, penetration testing, and programming. The cybercriminals have notably also been using social media to target their victims.

The scammers’ capabilities are said to have varied in skill, as while some struggled to distribute a large amount of emails that could get past email server or spam filters, others managed to show high levels of sophistication, with emails sent from accounts specifically created for the campaigns.

Moreover, these campaigns were launched on a global scale, as the servers the emails came from were in five different continents. The highest amount of emails came from Vietnam, Brazil, and India. These servers could, however, have been compromised by the scammers as well.