The dark web is flooded with cryptocurrency scammers, targeting people trying to donate money to support Ukraine
An increasing number of fraudulent advertisements are appearing on the dark web prompting users to donate to Ukraine in the form of cryptocurrency, prompting warnings from analysts at Check Point Research (CPR) who are advising people to find official ways to donate to support Ukraine.
CPR found that there are scam pages on the dark web for donations to Ukraine aid, and CPR warned the public not to donate to Ukraine via the dark web. The dark web, which is invisible to search engines and can only be accessed through the anonymous Tor browser, played its part to some extent during the Russian-Ukrainian war, with organizations including the BBC using the dark web to bring the latest news to Russia, whose regular web services are restricted and whose nationals can only access state-approved media.
Last year, we found false advertisements for a new coronavirus vaccine on the dark web," said Oded Vanunu, Check Point's director of product vulnerability research. Now, as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, we are seeing ads for donation scams appearing on the Dark Web."
"These ads use fake names and personal stories to lure people into donating. In one example, we see someone claiming to be 'Marina' and showing a personal photo of herself with her child. As it turns out, the photo was actually taken from a German newspaper."
The false ad stated that "Marina" and her children were trying to flee Ukraine due to "very bad circumstances" and asked for money in the form of cryptocurrency. The ad included a QR code pointing to an existing cryptocurrency wallet, but when Vanunu's team dug deeper, they found that Marina's photo had been grabbed from Deutsche Welle's news service. It also didn't provide any other information, casting doubt on the ad's authenticity and legitimacy.
That's not to say, however, that there aren't some official Ukrainian fundraising outlets, Vanunu added: "We have seen examples of legitimate fundraising sites that have helped Ukrainians and have successfully raised more than $50 million. As a result, there is a mix of official and fraudulent advertising on the dark web."
Legitimate channels point to a website on the public network "DefendUkraine" (https://www.defendukraine.org/), the official website of the Ukrainian government's cryptocurrency donations (https://donate. thedigital.gov.ua/) and a Twitter account that CheckPoint has confirmed as reliable. The site contains a list of organizations and NGO in need in Ukraine and collects donations in bitcoin and ethereum. Since its registration in February 2022, it has received more than $50 million in funding.
The official Ukrainian address for collecting bitcoins is (https://www.blockchain.com/btc/address/357a3So9CbsNfBBgFYACGvxxS6tMaDoa1P). This site has received 325.88942515 BTC worth $13,549,895.70 as of now (first transaction time 2022-02-24 12:58).
Nevertheless, Vanunu advises people who wish to support Ukrainians in need to find a trusted source rather than relying on dark web resources.
"The dark web can be a dangerous place," he said. "I strongly urge anyone wishing to donate to use trusted sources and mediums. cpr will continue to monitor the dark web throughout the ongoing war and report any other wrongdoing."
British citizens are being urged to donate to Ukraine through the Disaster Emergency Committee's humanitarian appeal, which the government has matched with donations of up to 25 million pounds. The government says many other organizations have also launched appeals - most of them legitimate, but even so, you might want to consider checking whether a charity is legitimate.
You can do this by checking the charity's name and registration number using the government's register of charities. Most charities with an income of £5,000 or more must be registered and are regulated by the Charity Commission. If still in doubt, you can also ask the organisation itself for more information - legitimate charities are always happy to talk about their work.
From：On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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