Cybercriminals have flocked to buy domains related to Facebook’s Libra right after the social media giant announced the cryptocurrency, in an attempt to scam those who look for the currency online. Some scams have already made victims.
According to a report published by threat intelligence group Digital Shadows, roughly 350 domains associated with Libra and Calibra – Facebook’s cryptocurrency wallet – have been registered right after the June 18 announcement in a ‘gold rush’ of people trying to take advantage of Libra’s popularity.
Digital Shadows notes that the vast majority of these domains is “currently parked and not hosting content,” as they were likely registered by domain squatters trying to make a profit off of domain names the company may end up buying from them, or off of domains associated with popular search queries.
The rest of the domains, however, were registered to host malicious content and scams those looking for Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency. The domains fall into two categories: those impersonating a legitimate Libra or Calibra website, and those promoting scams through their names.
Taking Advantage of Libra’s Media Coverage
When Facebook announced the launch of Libra, most news outlets started reporting on it, and even covered how it takes from some top cryptocurrencies for the “best of all worlds.” Taking advantage of the popularity the cryptocurrency quickly gained, scammers started trying to convince victims they were operating its legitimate website.
This way, potential victims are likely going to trust the claims found on the malicious websites and trust them with their financial data and personal information. Domains can, in fact, closely resemble the legitimate Libra domain by using characters from the Greek, Cyrillic, and other alphabets.
These characters resemble those of the Roman alphabet, and can make domains appear near-identical to unsuspecting users. This is called a homographattack, and at least six cases were found regarding Facebook’s Libra and Calibra:
- “calìbra[.]com (xn--calbra-yva[.]com)
- líbra[.]org (xn--lbra-vpa[.]org)
Cybercriminals with experience are able to clone Libra’s legitimate website and change only what they need to suit their needs. Per Digital Shadow, the best websites can be nearly impossible to distinguish from the legitimate one.
In a case the organization pointed to, scammers were asking users to buy Libra using Ethereum’s ether, and were supposedly granting them a 25% bonus. Facebook’s cryptocurrency is only set to launch in 2020, and cryptocurrency exchanges ShapeShift and Binance are still just planning to list it.
Nevertheless, the scammers’ Ethereum address is said to have 0.2 ether in it, suggesting the hackers swindled victims out of about $61. Scams in the cryptocurrency space are, as experienced users know, fairly common. Recently, hackers hijacked the official Twitter account of UK supermarket Tesco to promote a Bitcoin scam.
For users’ security, Digital Shadows has advised users should be vigilant when navigating the web and be watchful for misspellings, particular characters, and redirects in domains. The organization adds that “if it seems implausible or too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Facebook’s “Aware of the Issue”
According to Axios, a Facebook spokesperson reacted to the ‘gold rush’ associated with the social media giant’s Libra cryptocurrency through an emailed statement, in which it noted it was aware scammers are taking advantage of it. The spokesperson was quoted as saying
We’re aware of the issue and will work with the Libra Association to take appropriate action.
As CryptoGlobe covered, central bankers, regulators, and government officials from various countries have weighed in on the social media giant’s cryptocurrency, as well as top economists and academics like Joseph Stiglitz and Nouriel Roubini.
The general consensus is that oversight is needed, as experts are worried Libra could be used for money laundering or other criminal activities. Others expressed concern for a company like Facebook – which has been associated with data-related scandals – obtaining users’ financial details.