Telegram has become widely recognized as the go-to platform for discussing anything crypto, and practically every major blockchain-based project and cryptocurrency community now operates a Telegram group and/or channel.
While this popularity has made Telegram an excellent tool for anybody looking to brush up on their crypto knowledge and discuss their favorite projects, it has also attracted unwanted attention from scammers.
Nowadays, there is a multitude of scams operating at any one time on Telegram, and practically all regular Telegram users have been targeted by at least one form of crypto scam on the platform.
In general, almost all of these crypto scams share one thing in common — they largely target inexperienced users, as well as those that are beginning to make their foray into the crypto space.
Fortunately, with a bit of basic knowledge and a few settings changes, it’s possible to eliminate the vast majority of scams — helping you learn, chat and create content on Telegram without risks. Here’s what you need to know.
Fake Telegram Groups
Arguably one of the most successful and downright dangerous scams on Telegram is the fake group scam.
The crux of the scam involves a copycat group that closely mimics an original, albeit with one not so small difference — its entire purpose is to defraud you. This group might contain very similar pinned messages, simulated conversion, admins with similar names to the original, etc., but will generally also include a message that includes a scam attempt.
For example, it might offer an opportunity to purchase tokens at a discount price or offer a flash “first-come-first-served” sale for pre-launch projects at their initial DEX offering (IDO) stage.
The perpetrators of the scam will often manually invite members from the original group into the scam groups, making it difficult to tell the difference.
How to Stay Safe?
Fortunately, one of the most convincing scams is also one of the easiest to avoid. Simply change your group invite settings to "My contacts" only — and you’ll essentially eliminate this problem.
Beyond this, remember to only follow links from official sources, and be sure to cross-reference this against other sources, since errors aren’t unheard of.
The Copycat Admin
If you have joined a popular Telegram community in recent months, then you have almost certainly experienced the copycat admin scam.
In general, this occurs after the target posts a question or requests support in a public group. Predatory scammers will then directly message the user, posing as an admin or support staff from the group. Most often, they will feign interest in their query and offer some sort of help — which usually ends up with them asking for the target’s private keys or seed phrase, or asking them to login into a platform designed to phish these details.
Upon checking their profile, they will likely be almost identical to a genuine admin in the group. However, they will either have a username that attempts to copy the original (e.g. C0inMarketCap instead of CoinMarketCap) or have no username at all — though some scammers will place an @ symbol in their bio to make it appear that this is their username.
How to Stay Safe?
Unfortunately, copycat admins will generally prey on inexperienced users who are more likely to be tricked than regulars. However, if you suspect that you’ve been contacted by a fake admin, copy their username (this should not be in the bio section of their profile) and search the group for posts from this user. If nothing appears, it’s a fake admin. Otherwise, ensure that they have an admin tag next to their name since they could be just an opportunist.
Whatever the case, never give out your private key, seed phrase, or other personal information through a DM or any other medium. Anybody asking for these, either directly or indirectly, is almost certainly looking to scam you.
Pump and Dump Crypto Groups
Pump groups are one of the oldest scams in the crypto book. They generally take the form of Telegram channels in which the owner or an administrator attempts to coordinate price manipulation on a cryptocurrency exchange.
The feigned purpose of most pump groups is to provide insider insights. Traders can then leverage it to get access to crypto assets just before they experience a large positive price improvement. However, the true purpose of these groups is to extract money from the community, since the group owners will buy up large amounts of the asset before announcing it to the group, following which the community will then drive up the price — essentially pumping the holdings of the group admins.
They might also charge a fee for VIP membership (or similar), providing a further way to steal from the community.
Once the price reaches a certain point, they’ll then exit their now substantial positions, crashing the market back down while leaving those that bought at the top out of pocket.
How to Stay Safe?
Unfortunately, many of these pump groups masquerade as so-called “signals groups” — which claim to provide insider information and market insights into cryptocurrencies that are about to move.
The best way to avoid these scams is to take a look at their historical performance. Are they generally correct about their predictions, are the pumps transient (indicating the pump group itself caused it), or do they provide genuine insights?
Many of these platforms will try to promote a sense of urgency in you, to force you to act without thinking (i.e. cause FOMO). If you get this feeling from most of their posts, odds are you’re dealing with a pump group.