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The "Here is My Private Key, Take What You Want" Scam Explained

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Written by   343
1 year ago

"Here is my private key, take what you want"!

Everybody always says "keep your private keys and your seed phrases secret. If you share it with anyone, they can - and most likely will - steal all of your crypto".

So how can it possibly be a scam that someone gives you their private key? But please be advised that it is in fact most likely a scam.

Before I explain how it works, I would like to give you my motivation for writing this article. You can skip the next section if you want.

My motivation to write this article

As you may know, I have recently discovered how it feels to be completely duped by a crypto scam.

That experience made me realise that crypto scams are everywhere. And we have to be extremely careful whom we can trust. On the internet more so than in real life. And in crypto even more than on the internet.

Some scams are harder to spot than others. While most scammers are pretty unskilled, other scammers seem to have years of experience and will act trustworthy for days - with the goal of stealing even more money from you. For a very recent example, I refer you to my article about the BeachSwap scam. The scammer was even interviewed by the BCH community before the scam happened and "he was cool as a cucumber" - as one observer put it.

I learnt from that experience that skills and morals are completely separate. Just because someone is skillful, it doesn't mean they'll act morally. That was the big mistake I made. I thought that if someone can earn a lot of money legitimately, they wouldn't use their impressive skills to scam just to make a bit more money faster. That was one of the assumption that turned out to be wrong.

Fortunately, most scammers aren't very skilled and most scams are easy to spot - once you are aware of how they work.

That's my motivation to write this article. To help you spot scams. Because I hate scammers and I want scams to become as unprofitable as possible - so that hopefully, the scammers will one day decide to stop. I know that's very optimistic and idealistic - and probably not very realistic to happen.

Here is one scam to watch out for - that is easy to spot

In this particular instance a scammer using the profile picture of a good-looking girl wrote something like this in a public Telegram group:

"Guys!

I've got mу ех-bоуfriеnd's wallеt here. Tаke whаt уоu want! Here's his Еthеreum private keу:

d421... efaea"

I have just seen this scam for the first time in real life in a Telegram group chat:

Other possibilities could sound like

"I am giving away free crypto! I put it on the wallet 0x123...789 with the Ethereum private key abc...xyz."

And they could impersonate a celebrity like Elon Musk.

How the scam works

The scammer makes it sound like you just need to import the private key into the wallet app and then you can send the tokens - that are on that wallet - to your own wallet.

The tokens that are on the scammer's wallet appear to be worth a lot of money and therefore, it seems like you won the lottery - and you need to act quickly before someone else takes advantage of this opportunity before you can.

Slow thinking and quick thinking

Scientists found out that humans have two kinds of thinking: A slow, deep thinking that is usually pretty hard to fool - and a quick, shallow thinking that can be fooled rather easily. Have you ever seen a message pop up on your phone or computer and you closed it right away without reading it - and lateron you wish you didn't? The quick thinking mechanism reacted and closed the message before the slow thinking realised what happened.

In emergency situations, the quick thinking takes over. That's usually a good thing, because when a wild animal chases you, you don't want to stand there and think if and if so in which direction you should run. The best option is to just run - as quickly and as soon as possible.

Because our quick thinking can be tricked much easier than our slow thinking, scammers usually create some sense of urgency. It's either an emergency situation and you need to do something right now. Or it's a great opportunity and you need to be the first in order to take advantage of it.

That's the case in this scam, too, even though the scammer didn't stress it as much as he - let's face it, it's most likely a guy - could.

And the story sounds kind of plausible. "Girl is mad at ex-boyfriend - and wants him to lose his crypto, because it is her revenge."

Here is how the scam works

On the scammer's wallet are some tokens, but there is no ETH. And you will need ETH to send the tokens to another wallet. But as soon as you transfer some ETH onto that wallet to send the tokens out, the ETH is gone. The scammer send it to some other wallet.

Please note that this scam can be carried out on many blockchains. It can be carried out on Ethereum or any EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) compatible blockchain like Binance Smart Chain (BSC) or SmartBCH. If the scam is run on BSC, the scammers try to steal your BNB. And on SmartBCH they try to steal your sBCH. It's always the coin that is used to pay for the transaction cost - also called "gas".

Note that the fees on SmartBCH are much lower than on Ethereum. And there are far fewer people active on SmartBCH compared to Ethereum. Therefore, such a scam is a lot less profitable on SmartBCH, but hey, it's still possible that we will see them on SmartBCH.

What I have learnt

This was the first time I have ever seen this scam in real life.

What I have learnt in these recent past days is that in crypto, it is a good idea to start out by assuming everyone is a scammer and everyone wants to steal your money. Then you can slowly build up trust from there. Slowly. Or even better: Don't trust, verify everything yourself - if you have the skills. And if you don't, start building up the skills you need.

But even that may not protect you from all scams. Sometimes jumping onto the new and shiny thing with great APY is a very profitable idea - and sometimes doing that will lead you to a total loss.

Let's just try to not fall for obvious scams. And let's be extremely careful with new projects by anonymous developers who have just appeared out of nowhere.

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Written by   343
1 year ago
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Comments

this is very informative. Thank you for this. Now I know more how spammers works.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Thank you for your comment.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

This has turned out to be very educative. Thanks for sharing with us. I wonder why people just sit and decide to scam others. Makes me wonder what has happened to hard work.

$ 0.10
1 year ago

I absolutely love your comment. Thank you for reading the article and for writing it! 💚

I also much prefer to earn a small amount of money using my skills for doing something good than making 1,000 times as much by scamming.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

oh gosh!. that's crazy!..scammers are everywhere!..

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Hayst very helpful one. Nice post and you share your information, many will be glad including me.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate it.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Thanks for this informative article. I am sure it will save us a lot of probable tears😂😂

$ 0.00
1 year ago

I hope it will help someone not getting scammed. 💚

$ 0.00
1 year ago