When working on this article, we searched for “SMART VALOR” on Telegram. One of the top results was a copycat account created to scam unsuspecting users. The same goes for most major crypto projects, as Telegram has proven to be a hotbed for scammers. Unfortunately, social platforms seem to be struggling to deal with the issue, so it’s up to you to educate yourself on how to stay safe. Read on to find out.
What is Telegram?
Telegram is a popular online messaging service founded in 2013 by a Russian entrepreneur, Pavel Durov, and his brother Nikolai. Similar to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Telegram allows users to send messages, share files, create group chats and bots and make voice and video calls.
While Telegram came a little late to the party compared to its rivals like WhatsApp, the service had a meteoric rise. Just three months after its launch, it had amassed over 100,000 users. Less than a year later, the platform had over 30 million active monthly users, and its growth has been exponential since then. As of this writing, Telegram reported over 700 million active monthly users.
Telegram's growth can be attributed to its features like cross-platform connections, programmable bots, group chats, and channels. These features have made Telegram an excellent tool for crypto projects. They can use the platform to create official groups and channels to interact with their users.
However, Telegram has been one of the most popular breeding grounds for scammers. Since the scams are still at large to this day, it's clear that the platform is having difficulty dealing with the scammers, so the best solution is to be extra careful. Let's find out some ways to stay safe on the platform.
Top tips on how to distinguish between real and fake accounts on Telegram
One of the most common and dangerous scams in Telegram is impersonation scams. They usually come as fake groups or individuals who pose as official staff from projects. However, often the most dangerous scams are the easiest to avoid. Here are some tips on how you could do that.
- Check if you can enter a message in the channel: One of the simplest ways to know if a channel is not legit is to confirm if you can enter messages or not. If you can't, that is instantly a red flag. Scam channels are often set up to be “broadcast only” to prevent users from writing messages in the chat. This means that other users can't warn newer users.
- Carefully check the username and message for spelling mistakes: If you encounter misspelled brand names, usernames, messages, or well-known products, chances are it's some sort of scam. Usernames are unique by default, so scammers try to swap letters in the admin's name, such as the letter “O” to the number “0”.
- Countercheck official Telegram groups from their official sources: Most projects link their available social sites on their website at the footer section. Make sure the group you are on is linked to the official website. Be careful since scammers also mimic websites. It's, therefore, a good idea to countercheck with multiple sources.
- Content of messages: Scammer's messages contain multiple red flags. They'll message you to try to obtain your personal information or click a link.
Most common threats on Telegram
Copycat Telegram channels, groups and admins
As mentioned, scammers often create channels with similar names and profile pictures to official ones to lure and deceive victims into thinking they are part of a genuine crypto project channel. Even on these genuine channels, there are sometimes copycat admins with almost identical usernames as official ones who will try to contact you to kickstart their scam.
Tip to stay safe: Keep in mind that admins will rarely ever DM you first, so shut down and report anybody posing as one. Plus, use the four tips in the previous segment to distinguish between legitimate and scam accounts.
Scam artists love using enticing tactics involving free rewards to grab the attention of potential victims. They try to convince you to redeem your rewards from a giveaway you did not enter in the first place. But as mentioned, the most dangerous scams are usually the easiest to avoid since this particular scam requires initial action from your end.
Tips to stay safe: The best way to avoid this is to remain vigilant and shut down the scammer's attempt early.
Crypto “Expert” Scams
This is one of the most popular crypto scams clothed as “financial advice”, where scam artists promise guaranteed returns on your investment. They entice you into depositing your coins or money by showing you multiple made-up testimonials from other people. After making your deposit, however, the scammers disappear along with your funds.
Some take it to the next level by contacting you directly from hacked accounts of people you trust.
Tips to stay safe: Don't listen to anyone promising you a guaranteed return on your investment. Be suspicious of even people you know sending you any offers or links.
Pump and dump scams
They involve price manipulation of digital assets by channel owners. The admins claim to have insider information that the price of asset X will rise to try to get many people to buy. Then, after successfully pumping the asset's value, they sell it before it crashes.
Tips to stay safe: Before investing in any project, always do your own research first to make informed investment decisions.
What can you do if you think you've been scammed on Telegram?
There are different levels to being scammed. For instance, you should be okay if you have realized you are in the middle of a potential scam but have not shared any sensitive information yet. However, if you have sent the scammer your crypto, it'll be gone, and you typically won't get it back.
Regardless, if you have made the transaction through an exchange, report it to them so that they can provide added security to your account. While reporting does not guarantee recovery, it may increase the chances of getting your money back.
In bank-related scams, some lucky victims have recovered their funds through the help of the bank that issued the credit or debit card. Make sure to call your bank as soon as possible to see if they can intercept or reverse the transaction. Also, closely look out for warning signs of identity theft.
Checklist to stay safe
- Never trust strangers or even people you know sending you offers or links.
- Take your time and do your research. Remember that nothing you receive on Telegram is ever urgent. Scam artists try to create a sense of urgency to force you into making rash decisions.
- Never share your login credentials. No bank or platform will ever ask you for these details.
- Carefully check the admin's username for spelling mistakes.
- Broadcast-only “crypto project” channels are a big red flag. Countercheck with multiple sources that you are on the official group.
- Change your group invite settings to "My contacts" only.
By default, any Telegram user can be added to a group without their consent. The easiest way to avoid being added to random Telegram groups is to navigate to “Privacy and Security” settings and select “My Contacts” in the groups and channels option. This would limit people who can add you to their groups to only the ones in your contact list.
As crypto continues to gain traction, so will the scams. Unfortunately, Telegram, a perfect fit for projects, is just as appealing a platform for crypto scammers. While it might be challenging to filter out the real from the fake, the responsibility still lies on you to take extra care.
We hope you find our tips helpful, but above all, always stay vigilant.
If you would like to join SMART VALOR's official – and real – Telegram group, please click here: