AIRDROP SCAMS & SCAMMERS! WHY I DISLIKE THEM & WHY YOU SHOULD TOO!!
If you are reading this post you may already know what an airdrop is so I won’t get into any “What is an Airdrop” discussions but I will get into “What is an Airdrop Scam” & of course, how to avoid them.
In the past year, Airdrops, especially airdrop promoting has become very popular. It seems that Airdrops, as a marketing tactic for new projects have become common place & almost guaranteed to be a bullet point in any road map info graphic.
Over the past 3 months Airdrop promoters have been coming out of the wood work bombarding us with airdrop after airdrop. If you are into Airdrops or even an airdrop promoter like myself you may already know what I am talking about however this is for those “airdrop hunters” that may be new to Airdrops or may spend some of their spare time completing Airdrops to build up their token portfolios without having to spend any money & potentially nailing an Airdrop that just happens to be for a Coin or Token that really takes off later on.
I started getting into Airdrops as a test about 1 year ago (1 year ago in the Airdrop space is like a decade). I wanted to see what type of portfolio I could build up in 1 year time simply by completing various Airdrops & I have to say while it has been an interesting experiment it as exposed me too & taught me things about Airdrops as well as Security that I may not have known if I didn’t attempt this.
If you are into Airdrops, Airdrop scammers are the bottom feeders of the industry. The ones that prefer attempting to steal your hard earned crypto or to waste your time by creating fake Airdrops in an attempt to trick you into adding yourself to their “marketing list” or to steal your identity or your private keys to steal your crypto.
Here is a list of all of the different types of fraudulent tactics I’ve seen used in the Airdrop promotion space by Airdrop scammers.
- Creating a fake Airdrop that requires you to “submit your email” as a task requirement.
Many legitimate Airdrops will require you to submit you details such as an email address & an ETH address. They ask for your email so the project can email you updates such as ICO dates as well as project updates. Some of them will even email you that it is time for your Airdropped Tokens to be distributed. Totally legit ICO tactic & nothing wrong with it if you opted in.
What Airdrop scammers will do is create a fake Airdrop to collect emails so then they too can begin emailing you with other Airdrops in turn building their Airdrop promotion network by wasting your time & getting your email by falsely claiming you will need to submit your details such as email so you can receive your Airdropped Tokens.
The only problems is that there are no Tokens to be given. Only unwanted emails from Airdrop promoters with Airdrops that now contain their referral link so they can earn more free Tokens from you as a referral. Would you really want someone to get a “referral bonus” in Tokens for your action after you had been duped by this person to join their email list in the first place? I know I wouldn’t & these emails, no matter how useful the information may be is deleted as well as reported for spam to their ESP.
Some will even switch your email to another one of their email lists causing you to play “wacka mole” just to be removed from them all. The way I see it is it may be a little extra work but it’s also more spam reports they brought upon themselves.
- Fake Airdrops that requires you to join their “ICO Telegram Channel” only for the channel’s name to be switched later on to some Telegram Airdrop Channel so they can post Airdrops with their referral link.
This one isn’t as noticeable. Sometimes you will remember joining an email list or having received emails from a particular entity before however this tactic is a little bit more tricky because if you are into Airdrops you may already have a lot of Channel & Groups in your Telegram list since many if not all of the Airdrops will require you to remain in their Telegram Channel and/or Group until the end of the ICO. I myself remember the Telegram Channels I join with maybe the exception of some of the projects. When all of a sudden I see that I am in a Airdrop related Telegram Channel that I never seen before I know this is one of those channels that came from a fake Airdrop. These I report to Telegram right away. You may also find yourself in Telegram Channels & Groups where you have been added without ever joining anything. You will know if you are if you see the little “Report for Spam” link under the Telegram Channels or Groups title header. The example of the Telegram Channel topic switching from some project with a supposed Airdrop to an Airdrop promotion channel will not have the “Report for Spam” link at the top because you joined the Channel or Group. Only did so when it was named something else that you initially had interest of.
- Fake Airdrops that require a “Gas Fee” to receive your Tokens.
While there may be a few legitimate Airdrops that ask for the gas to send your Airdropped Tokens, I steer clear of these entirely (with the exception of 1 time I sent the gas fee because I was friends with one of the management team therefore I knew the Token was legit, I knew I would be getting Tokens for my ETH & I liked the project and the amount of Tokens I would be getting was well worth the 0.007 ETH) however most of these Airdrops are fake.
There may be Airdrops that are 100% legitimate however I do not feel that some of those Tokens would be worth the small gas fee I was sending. That is a decision you may need to research & consider for yourself. If you are following a prominent Airdrop promoter or subscribed to an Airdrop channel or network it should be the duty of the person running that Airdrop network to take steps to protect its members. Not all will do this so choose who you follow wisely.
- Airdrops posing as popular & already establish Tokens. This tactic is a big one for those who are trying to build up their new “Airdrop Channel” or get you to send ETH. They will post as Tokens that have larger market caps but that are low cost per Token such as IOTA, Zilliqa, Verge, Tron & more. The best way to identify these scams is to check the Twitter account of the real project. Finds its page on CoinMarketCap & use the Website, Announcement & Social links there to not only make sure you are visiting the correct site but that you are also checking several different sources by checking all 3 just mentioned. If you do not see any information about an Airdrop on their official Twitter feed then there isn’t one. Make sure you are visiting the real Twitter profile since scammers may create a profile that has a vanity url similar to the real url. This is why I suggest using the links posted on the Coin or Tokens profile page on CoinMarketCap.
Many Airdrop promoters & networks fail to take the time to conduct the proper research to ensure the legitimacy & safety of the Airdrops they promote. Especially if the project pays for a “sponsored post” you can bet that 9 out 10 Airdrop promoters will fail to turn down a sponsored post opportunity or turn a blind eye to a fake Airdrop or scam. Personally, I have turned down several Airdrops that not only didn’t meet the smell test in terms of my research of the project but even if my intuition signaled a harmful Airdrop I refused.
It is my opinion that Airdrop promoters & network owners need to protect its subscribers & members. It should be much more than just, “I found another Airdrop so here”. It should be their duty to test the Airdrop fully & protect airdrop hunters & it is this value & protection that all airdrop hunters should consider when following an airdrop promoter or network.
I spend 3 x’s the amount of time it would take to post an Airdrop to my Network because of research & testing each airdrop. I also test each & every Airdrop process to make sure it is working. No one wants to waste their time clicking links & starting some process only to find out that 1 of the areas within the Airdrop process is not working. This is a huge waste of time for Airdroppers, to begin the process of completing tasks within that Airdrop only to find out that there is a bug in the form, bot or webpage. The worse type of bug I’ve found to be is the last step of the Airdrop process not working. Maybe it is the submit button not working & you need to submit the information to qualify & finalize the Airdrop process. Going through all those steps only to find out that you cannot submit your details is stressful for sure. That is why I “take the bullet” for you & test every Airdrop first before posting. Only a small fraction if not all Airdrop promoters do not do this. Especially if they are paid to post the Airdrop. It is like anyone who pays to have their Airdrop added as a sponsored post the gates are thrown wide open & any sense of protection or security is throw right out of the window in the name of monetization. I refuse to accept any money from anyone who is not legitimate. I do not care. The Universe is far more powerful than a few dollars for me to turn a blind eye to something that could harm my members. I have been one of those victims & I will not expose my Airdrop members to the same.
Vented there for a moment. Back to the good part...
Here are the areas I check before I post any Airdrop & if you are getting your Airdrop alerts from somewhere else I suggest taking these same steps:
A) Checking all shortened URLs before clicking on them. If a Bitly link, Google url shortener or any other url shortener is being used I recommend using a “Short Link Checker” first to see what the actual link is behind the shortener. I use http://urlxray.com to check all shortened urls I am not familiar with before clicking since the link behind the shortened url could be a phishing link. I copy & paste the url in the urlxray.com & if the url shown looks legitimate to me, such as a Telegram bot link, Google Doc form link or a domain that doesn’t posses some super long string of characters then I’ll visit it to next steps.
Why do airdrop promoters use url shorteners sometimes? Well, I tend to use them only if the actual url is very long with an enormous amount of characters or variables. A long url sometimes looks ugly & will take up an extraordinary amount of space. Therefore I will shorten the url however I try not to shorten urls whenever possible so my members can see the url before clicking it. I know some members do not even know I go through these steps to protect them nor do some of them take these safety steps themselves. They will simply move on. This should help minimizing alienating an airdrop member.
B) Checking if the main url has malware or is a phishing link. Once I run the url through the link checker above I run the actual url through a second tool (you may skip #1 if the Airdrop post is not using a shortened url). I typically use the Google Malware Checker here: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search
While I prefer the Google Malware Checker tool there are certainly other trust worthy checkers. You may even find browser extensions for Chrome or FireFox however I recommend checking the reviews of the extension to make sure it’s not a phishing tool itself.
C) Research the actual project. Checking to see if this is a legitimate project will drive down the possibility of encountering a fake or scam Airdrop considerably or closest to 0 as humanly possible. These are the points I consider when I research an Airdrop opportunity (These steps can also be used to research an ICO or Crypto Project however I will keep the context of this post focused on Airdrops):
a) Do they have a Social Media presence?
b) Do they have content on their Social Media profiles?
c) How much & how long have they been posting to their Social Media profiles? While it does make sense for a brand new project to have only started posting recently it is still important to consider this fact. Minimal activity on their Social Media profiles could be a “red alert”.
d) What does their BitcoinTalk announcement thread look like? Does one even exist? Checking to see if their BitcoinTalk Airdrop/Bounty ANN thread (ANN stands for announcement) is well written, full of information, has plenty of user interaction within the thread & BitcoinTalk forum members are giving their “approval”, I would give the Airdrop another point. Also keep in mind, when checking the activity of the users in their BitcoinTalk ANN thread, check to see if these members who are responding & saying positive things about the Airdrop & project are not just fake members created by the Airdrop scammers to create the impression of 3rd party approval. Typically you will see some members with higher post & merit counts as well as higher reputation & they may even be promoting a totally unrelated project in their signature. These are good clues to use during your assessment to determine the authenticity of the replies in those BitcoinTalk forum threads.
e) If its an erc20 Token check their contract out on Etherscan.io. Some clues to look at (but not necessarily always the case) would be, have they issued any Tokens to anyone else. This is not always a great indicator since many Tokens would not have issued any Tokens at this point however there may be some that have & this is something I like to see.
f) Conduct searches on a few websites to see what others may be saying about the project & their Airdrop. Search with keywords such as, “[Project Name] Airdrop” or “[Project Name] Scam” on sites such as Google & BitcoinTalk forum. Twitter is always a great place to gain insight into a project & its Airdrop. However, be careful that you do not actually walk into a scam while researching a legitimate project Airdrop. For example, you could have initially been at the appropriate website, began conducting research and during your research found a fraudulent version & begin using that source to conduct your Airdrop tasks.
While the purpose of this post is to inform & instruction Airdroppers on how to steer clear of fake Airdrops & Airdrop scams I do not want to inadvertently suggest anything that could lead you to any.
Back to the types of Airdrop scams to avoid...
- Airdrops requiring a KYC process to finalize your Airdrop tasks & to “qualify” for the Airdrop distribution. In my opinion, this is the trickiest Airdrop scam tactic there is. What these scammers will do is require you to complete a KYC (Know-Your-Customer) process, which is Financial compliance process required under law in many countries. In this Airdrop scam tactic there are no Tokens to be given so the purpose of the scammers to require you to complete a KYC process is only to resell your information to identify thieves or to steal identities themselves.
This is a hard scam tactic to spot because KYC is used by legitimate projects during their ICO processes therefore how do you differentiate between a scam project or a legitimate project when you have made it as far as the KYC process which is usually the final step to quality for the Tokens? If you have used the research tactics mentioned earlier you may have already eliminated this Airdrop scam from the equation so then their KYC process becomes a non issue however let’s say you have made it this far. The only advice I can provide for this would be to use your own judgment. I know it’s not as concrete or as clear as the steps you can take above so the best advice I can give for this one is if it does not feel right then it probably is not right. If you are getting a feeling that this project does not seem legitimate, walk away from it. There will be plenty more legitimate Airdrops available that skipping this one to be safe is a very wise move. Is it possible that by skipping an Airdrop you could potentially miss out on getting a nice batch of free Tokens that wind up mooning in price over time? This can absolutely happen however the probability of this happening is low therefore I suggest not risking or sacrificing something much more valuable such as your identity just to gamble on some Token that has more than a 1 in 20 chance of exploding in price.
With all that said, here is the final & in my opinion to most important Airdrop scam to be aware of & to avoid
- Never send an Airdrop or supposed Airdrop admin or community manager your private keys. After the unsure nature of dealing with KYC this point is an absolute. No legitimate Airdrop will ever ever ever (to infinity) ask you for your private keys. Be weary of private messages on Telegram of people posing as Airdrop admins as well suggesting they will need your private keys to send you your Tokens or any email that would suggest there is some unheard of Technical issue they are dealing so the only way to distribute your Tokens to you would be for you to send them your private keys.
When you encounter something like this, REPORT, DELETE & RUN!
You can also report the Airdrop scam or fake Airdrop & have the scam listed on Scam Alert & Notification communities such as this one on Telegram: https://t.me/airdropscams
To report an scam or fake Airdrop to be further researched & if determined to be a scam on Telegram you can PM the admin of the Airdrop Scam Telegram Channel at https://t.me/cryptocurrencycommander
He will research your claim & if it’s found to be an Airdrop scam or fake Airdrop it will be posted to https://t.me/airdropscams & the channel’s corresponding Twitter page at https://twitter.com/airdropscams
If you liked this Steemit post & found it useful feel free to upvote & resteem it. If you have any comments feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
You can also follow @telegramairdrops here on Steemit for researches & tested Airdrops that have all made it through the above mentioned process.
You may also follow my Airdrop Telegram Channel which puts every Airdrop through this process before ever being posted at:
If you prefer Twitter you can find these same Airdrops posted at:
Thanks for taking the time to go through this long read. While it does contain a lot of words I felt it was very important to give everyone all the tools available to them to stay safe & secure when conducting Airdrop tasks.
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