Airdrops are great and they are essentially free money (usually for doing easy social tasks). When there is something good, it seems a scammer will always find a way to use it to part people with their hard earned money. This sometimes results in legitimate looking Airdrops suddenly showing their true colors – here’s what you should be watching for.
How do we identify airdrop scams?
- The biggest clue that a scam is in play is when you are being asked to send crypto to an address to confirm your wallet or to receive multiple times more crypto back or being referred to a site that does this. Once crypto is requested as part of receiving the airdrop, we mark the airdrop as a scam and walk away.
A variation on this is the arbitrage scam – they send you a video link that shows you how to create an arbitrage contract that allows you to get a lot of crypto. It’s a scam – the contract links to code that sends your crypto to a random address. The video is faked.
NOTE: Some airdrops will ask users to send crypto as part of coin/token sales or initial coin offerings. This doesn’t mean they are running a scam. This may be legit activity that is just part of trying to introduce a new cryptocurrency into the ecosystem. You NEVER need to send crypto though for standard social activity based airdrops, so feel free to either ignore these messages completely or do your research on the cryptocurrency and figure out whether you want to take advantage of the offer to invest in that cryptocurrency.
- Really high airdrop amounts. Airdrops usually fall in the range for $5-$50. Sometimes a legit airdrop will be more (I once had one that paid out over $3k), but generally speaking, we don’t get our hopes up for those ones until they pay out. We still go through the process on our personal account in case it pans out and if there is no clear signs of scamming or fraudulent intent up front, we’ll still post it for our users, but we’ll also mark the ones we are most suspicious of up front as iffy so that users know to be extra cautious, even though the same rules should always apply.
- Too easy social media actions This is super subjective, but when all you’re asked to do is some telegram follows or you’re not asked to provide your social profile info, it just feels iffy – like the airdrop isn’t the end goal, but just the lure to get you in their crosshairs so they can trigger their trap and try to get you to send them crypto. We try to be careful with these. Sometimes they may be legitimately trying to get their project in front of as many people as possible for advertising value, other times – it just feels off. If it feels off – just skip it.
- Social media accounts that don’t look official (e.g. social profiles that don’t link to an informative site with more information about the cryptocurrency, social profile names that aren’t professional or end in underscores or numbers, social media accounts that don’t lead you to more information about the project or that differ from what the main project site links to for social media). This is subjective and you have to look at the whole picture.
- Sites that look bare or cheesy (e.g. whitepapers that have few technical details, sites that are very barebones and have links that don’t work, sites with links that take you to a different domain). If a site links to a social media account and that social media account links back to a different website – you know the first site is a scam.
NOTE: Unfortunately some really young crypto projects have sites and social media that look lame. So like the other things, this must be evaluated as part of the whole picture.
- Sites that want you to authorize they spend unrelated tokens from your wallet. This is a common selfdrop scam. People are so used to approving their wallet interactions that the hope is you’ll just accept it. Concerned you may have authorized wallets/contracts to spend your tokens in the past? Check here for what addresses you have authorized to spend your tokens. (remember if you have joined any farms/liquidity pools, those require that you approve them spending your related tokens, so some approvals may be legit.)
How do we deal with an airdrop scam?
- When it is clearly a scam, report it. Telegram and other social media apps/sites have ways of reporting content as spam – only report the scamming account though, not other accounts linking to it. Feel free to do so when you know it’s crossed the line from iffy to scammy. Often reporting scams is just a right click away in an app or at the bottom of many menus.
- Delete it – when you know its a scam, remove your interaction with it – unfollow it, delete the bot/app, etc. Do what you need to do to feel like you’ve erased it from your life.
- Move on – once you’ve reported it, you’ve done all you can. We list scams and alert our followers/users of scams to help protect them, but otherwise, there is nothing more we can really do. For our own mental health and yours, it’s best to just move on. Remember – you haven’t been scammed if you haven’t sent money/crypto, so avoid sending money/crypto (or authorizing someone to spend your money/crypto) as a habbit
What if I sent some crypto?
Unfortunately, if you’ve sent crypto, it’s likely gone for good, never to be recovered. At this point, because of the worldwide nature of cryptocurrency, there is no central authority that can help you recover your crypto. Make sure that what ever price you paid becomes tuition in the school of crypto life. You’ve learned a hard lesson. Print a certificate or do whatever you need to do help you move on, but ultimately learn from the experience and move on. Trying to recover what you sent is a battle you will likely waste more time, energy, and maybe money on with NOTHING to show for it in the end.