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Crypto Scammers Target Trump’s MAGA Supporters

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Crypto Scammers Target Trump's MAGA Supporters

Last month, former president and convicted felon Donald Trump announced that his campaign would accept cryptocurrency donations. In the following weeks, cybercrime detection company Netcraft found Dozens of scam websites are looking to target Trump supporters and siphon off their cryptocurrency, according to a report shared exclusively with WIRED.

Netcraft found that in the days leading up to the announcement, scammers registered domains with common misspellings, hoping to capture supporters trying to access donaldjtrump.com. A domain registered at donalbjtrump.com was a near-perfect replica of the actual Trump campaign website. And while the Trump campaign accepts donations through Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, some of the scam websites appear to be using portals intended to look like Coingate, a blockchain and crypto payments processor.

“As a victim, the fact that the real campaign is using Coinbase payments instead of direct cryptocurrencies” wouldn’t be very obvious, says Rob Duncan, head of research at Netcraft. “The way it’s been announced is ‘Donald Trump is accepting cryptocurrency donations,’ when in reality that’s pretty much it, it’s a little more subtle.”

A second wave of fake websites appeared on the heels of Trump’s May 30 felony conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records to pay porn star Stormy Daniels. In the hours after his conviction, the campaign raised more than $34 million in donations. Cybercriminals appeared to anticipate this interest and were keen to capitalize on the donations that poured into the Trump campaign following the verdict.

“Criminals like to use events like this to base their scams on current events, things that people are interested in, where people are more likely to click on links,” Duncan says. In the wake of the October 7 attacks and the subsequent conflict in Palestine, Duncan says Netcraft identified several donation scams targeting people on both sides of the conflict.

“They are interested in getting cryptocurrency from anyone. And they don’t care what political ideology they may have,” says Duncan.

Duncan adds that when checking the blockchain, none of the scams appear to be successful yet, but he suspects that may be because they are relatively new and may not be active yet.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Cryptocurrencies can be particularly useful for criminals because they are largely unregulated and do not have the same restrictions as traditional financial institutions. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Report 2023, crypto investment scams cost people about $3.94 billion. “Cryptocurrencies are obviously a very good mechanism for criminals to use,” Duncan says. “There is no way to reverse the payments; “Once the money is in the criminal’s wallet, it disappears.”

Trump’s recent support for cryptocurrencies is a sea change in his presidency. In 2019, Trump said he was “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies in a series of posts on X, then on Twitter. “We only have one real currency in the United States… It’s called the US dollar!” he published at that time.

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