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06-04 09:46 - 'A quick way to pick up Bitcoin. Get started....Get yourself a bitcoin account either through bitcoin.org or an online wallet. Use the address with one or more of the sites listed here.' (rotator.doublebitcoins.com) by /u/djlfoundation removed from /r/Bitcoin within 8-13min
It's beginning to feel a lot like 2017. Some useful reminders and advice for new comers.
Hype and increasing prices will undoubtedly attract new investors, HODLers, and gamblers. Regardless of how long you've been in crypto, below are a few pieces of information (or reminders) you should consider.
We're still early. Cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, is still in its infancy. Because of this, we will continue to see headlines of hacks, exchange closures, big name investors coming into the space, major institutional adoption, and everything in between. Until crypto is regulated (for better or worse) and even after, there will be bad actors attempting to steal your cryptocurrencies. To that end, think twice when hearing about 'deals' or investments that seem too good to be true. They probably are.
Protection. I often see questions regarding the storage of cryptocurrencies. Not to oversimplify, but as a user, you have ~3 choices to store your cryptocurrency. In order of most secure to least secure:
Cold Storage - From wikipedia: Cold storage refers to storing Bitcoins/Cryptos offline and spending without the private keys controlling them ever being online. This resists theft by hackers and malware, and is often a necessary security precaution especially dealing with large amounts of Bitcoin. If you aren't comfortable manually storing your private key, physical hardware wallets are your best alternative. When possible, buy direct from the manufacturer to avoid any tampering to your new device.
Hot Wallets - From investopedia: The difference between a hot wallet and a cold wallet is that hot wallets are connected to the internet, while cold wallets are not. Hot wallets can be installed onto your mobile device and/or your web browser. Similar to cold storage, these hot wallets will 'store' your crypto and will be accessed to send/receive tokens, execute smart contracts, and conduct other transactions. There are many options to choose from, but MetaMask is as close to an industry standard as it comes, and the developer has recently implemented an ERC-20 token swap function. Again, download directly from the developer if you can.
Exchanges - Exchanges certainly have their own purpose, most notably as an on and off ramp for your fiat currency (e.g., US Dollar, etc). However, when you read headlines like "Bitcoin Hacked for 10 million dollars!" what they usually mean is, a centralized exchange that holds users' cryptocurrencies was hacked and bitcoin was extracted from the exchange's storage. For this reason, exchanges are considered to be less safe than your Hot Wallet and Cold storage alternatives.
Don't be greedy. This is easier said than done, and many veteran traders have learned this the hard way -- some still haven't learned. When prices are only going up, you're going to feel like a million bucks. But things dont go up forever. Ever. (Unless it's the Fed's balance sheet.. har har). Point being, it's okay to take profits along the way up. I guarantee you'll have an opportunity to re-buy those same tokens at a cheaper price, and you'll enjoy them even more the second time around.
Don't spend more than you can afford. Hopefully this goes without saying, but the crypto space is extremely volatile. It is not uncommon to lose your entire investment with just one wrong token/ICO/scam. To that end; just use your common sense. It sounds easy, but when you're making money, sometimes it's hard to see the cliff at the end of the road.
Keep learning. I joined the crypto space because I saw an opportunity to make money. It's been a wild ride, and I've learned a lot more than I've gained (from a monetary perspective). What i didn't expect to happen, was to open pandora's box when it comes to what Bitcoin (specifically) aimed to solve. My thirst for knowledge only expanded when I learned of the opportunity space Ethereum was trying to fill. Compound that with the immutability of blockchain technology, DeFi, smart contracts, data oracles, (and the list goes on); now I'm completely hooked. It's clear to me that blockchain will revolutionize the way we function on the global scale. But many are just now beginning to learn about bBitcoin, and we're ahead of the curve. Which leads me back to point number 1; we're still early.
Sorry for rambling on here; I'm sure more veteran HODLers have already X'd out of this post, which is fine. They likely don't need this information as they have learned these same tips along their own journeys. But for newcomers to the space, I wish I had this foundational knowledge from the get go. Don't be afraid to ask questions on this sub. With the recent implementation of MOON tokens (this is a whole 'nother topic), I've personally noticed more downvotes than normal. But awareness and understanding is critical to adoption, so don't be turned off if you don't get an answer to your questions immediately. There is a wealth of knowledge scattered across the internet, and still a lot of smart people on reddit who are willing to help.
Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
A common sentiment is brewing online; a shared desire for the internet that might have been. After decades of corporate encroachment, you don't need to be a power user to realize that something has gone very wrong. In the early days of the internet, the future was bright. In that future, when you sent an instant message, it traveled directly to the recipient. When you needed to pay a friend, you announced a transfer of value to their public key. When an app was missing a feature you wanted, you opened up the source code and implemented it. When you took a picture on your phone, it was immediately encrypted and backed up to storage that you controlled. In that future, people would laugh at the idea of having to authenticate themselves to some corporation before doing these things. What did we get instead? Rather than a network of human-sized communities, we have a handful of enormous commons, each controlled by a faceless corporate entity. Hey user, want to send a message? You can, but we'll store a copy of it indefinitely, unencrypted, for our preference-learning algorithms to pore over; how else could we slap targeted ads on every piece of content you see? Want to pay a friend? You can—in our Monopoly money. Want a new feature? Submit a request to our Support Center and we'll totally maybe think about it. Want to backup a photo? You can—inside our walled garden, which only we (and the NSA, of course) can access. Just be careful what you share, because merely locking you out of your account and deleting all your data is far from the worst thing we could do. You rationalize this: "MEGACORP would never do such a thing; it would be bad for business." But we all know, at some level, that this state of affairs, this inversion of power, is not merely "unfortunate" or "suboptimal" – No. It is degrading. Even if MEGACORP were purely benevolent, it is degrading that we must ask its permission to talk to our friends; that we must rely on it to safeguard our treasured memories; that our digital lives are completely beholden to those who seek only to extract value from us. At the root of this issue is the centralization of data. MEGACORP can surveil you—because your emails and video chats flow through their servers. And MEGACORP can control you—because they hold your data hostage. But centralization is a solution to a technical problem: How can we make the user's data accessible from anywhere in the world, on any device? For a long time, no alternative solution to this problem was forthcoming. Today, thanks to a confluence of established techniques and recent innovations, we have solved the accessibility problem without resorting to centralization. Hashing, encryption, and erasure encoding got us most of the way, but one barrier remained: incentives. How do you incentivize an anonymous stranger to store your data? Earlier protocols like BitTorrent worked around this limitation by relying on altruism, tit-for-tat requirements, or "points" – in other words, nothing you could pay your electric bill with. Finally, in 2009, a solution appeared: Bitcoin. Not long after, Sia was born. Cryptography has unleashed the latent power of the internet by enabling interactions between mutually-distrustful parties. Sia harnesses this power to turn the cloud storage market into a proper marketplace, where buyers and sellers can transact directly, with no intermediaries, anywhere in the world. No more silos or walled gardens: your data is encrypted, so it can't be spied on, and it's stored on many servers, so no single entity can hold it hostage. Thanks to projects like Sia, the internet is being re-decentralized. Sia began its life as a startup, which means it has always been subjected to two competing forces: the ideals of its founders, and the profit motive inherent to all businesses. Its founders have taken great pains to never compromise on the former, but this often threatened the company's financial viability. With the establishment of the Sia Foundation, this tension is resolved. The Foundation, freed of the obligation to generate profit, is a pure embodiment of the ideals from which Sia originally sprung. The goals and responsibilities of the Foundation are numerous: to maintain core Sia protocols and consensus code; to support developers building on top of Sia and its protocols; to promote Sia and facilitate partnerships in other spheres and communities; to ensure that users can easily acquire and safely store siacoins; to develop network scalability solutions; to implement hardforks and lead the community through them; and much more. In a broader sense, its mission is to commoditize data storage, making it cheap, ubiquitous, and accessible to all, without compromising privacy or performance. Sia is a perfect example of how we can achieve better living through cryptography. We now begin a new chapter in Sia's history. May our stewardship lead it into a bright future.
Today, we are proposing the creation of the Sia Foundation: a new non-profit entity that builds and supports distributed cloud storage infrastructure, with a specific focus on the Sia storage platform. What follows is an informal overview of the Sia Foundation, covering two major topics: how the Foundation will be funded, and what its funds will be used for.
The Sia Foundation will be structured as a non-profit entity incorporated in the United States, likely a 501(c)(3) organization or similar. The actions of the Foundation will be constrained by its charter, which formalizes the specific obligations and overall mission outlined in this document. The charter will be updated on an annual basis to reflect the current goals of the Sia community. The organization will be operated by a board of directors, initially comprising Luke Champine as President and Eddie Wang as Chairman. Luke Champine will be leaving his position at Nebulous to work at the Foundation full-time, and will seek to divest his shares of Nebulous stock along with other potential conflicts of interest. Neither Luke nor Eddie personally own any siafunds or significant quantities of siacoin.
The primary source of funding for the Foundation will come from a new block subsidy. Following a hardfork, 30 KS per block will be allocated to the "Foundation Fund," continuing in perpetuity. The existing 30 KS per block miner reward is not affected. Additionally, one year's worth of block subsidies (approximately 1.57 GS) will be allocated to the Fund immediately upon activation of the hardfork. As detailed below, the Foundation will provably burn any coins that it cannot meaningfully spend. As such, the 30 KS subsidy should be viewed as a maximum. This allows the Foundation to grow alongside Sia without requiring additional hardforks. The Foundation will not be funded to any degree by the possession or sale of siafunds. Siafunds were originally introduced as a means of incentivizing growth, and we still believe in their effectiveness: a siafund holder wants to increase the amount of storage on Sia as much as possible. While the Foundation obviously wants Sia to succeed, its driving force should be its charter. Deriving significant revenue from siafunds would jeopardize the Foundation's impartiality and focus. Ultimately, we want the Foundation to act in the best interests of Sia, not in growing its own budget.
The Foundation inherits a great number of responsibilities from Nebulous. Each quarter, the Foundation will publish the progress it has made over the past quarter, and list the responsibilities it intends to prioritize over the coming quarter. This will be accompanied by a financial report, detailing each area of expenditure over the past quarter, and forecasting expenditures for the coming quarter. Below, we summarize some of the myriad responsibilities towards which the Foundation is expected to allocate its resources.
Maintain and enhance core Sia software
Arguably, this is the most important responsibility of the Foundation. At the heart of Sia is its consensus algorithm: regardless of other differences, all Sia software must agree upon the content and rules of the blockchain. It is therefore crucial that the algorithm be stewarded by an entity that is accountable to the community, transparent in its decision-making, and has no profit motive or other conflicts of interest. Accordingly, Sia’s consensus functionality will no longer be directly maintained by Nebulous. Instead, the Foundation will release and maintain an implementation of a "minimal Sia full node," comprising the Sia consensus algorithm and P2P networking code. The source code will be available in a public repository, and signed binaries will be published for each release. Other parties may use this code to provide alternative full node software. For example, Nebulous may extend the minimal full node with wallet, renter, and host functionality. The source code of any such implementation may be submitted to the Foundation for review. If the code passes review, the Foundation will provide "endorsement signatures" for the commit hash used and for binaries compiled internally by the Foundation. Specifically, these signatures assert that the Foundation believes the software contains no consensus-breaking changes or other modifications to imported Foundation code. Endorsement signatures and Foundation-compiled binaries may be displayed and distributed by the receiving party, along with an appropriate disclaimer. A minimal full node is not terribly useful on its own; the wallet, renter, host, and other extensions are what make Sia a proper developer platform. Currently, the only implementations of these extensions are maintained by Nebulous. The Foundation will contract Nebulous to ensure that these extensions continue to receive updates and enhancements. Later on, the Foundation intends to develop its own implementations of these extensions and others. As with the minimal node software, these extensions will be open source and available in public repositories for use by any Sia node software. With the consensus code now managed by the Foundation, the task of implementing and orchestrating hardforks becomes its responsibility as well. When the Foundation determines that a hardfork is necessary (whether through internal discussion or via community petition), a formal proposal will be drafted and submitted for public review, during which arguments for and against the proposal may be submitted to a public repository. During this time, the hardfork code will be implemented, either by Foundation employees or by external contributors working closely with the Foundation. Once the implementation is finished, final arguments will be heard. The Foundation board will then vote whether to accept or reject the proposal, and announce their decision along with appropriate justification. Assuming the proposal was accepted, the Foundation will announce the block height at which the hardfork will activate, and will subsequently release source code and signed binaries that incorporate the hardfork code. Regardless of the Foundation's decision, it is the community that ultimately determines whether a fork is accepted or rejected – nothing can change that. Foundation node software will never automatically update, so all forks must be explicitly adopted by users. Furthermore, the Foundation will provide replay and wipeout protection for its hard forks, protecting other chains from unintended or malicious reorgs. Similarly, the Foundation will ensure that any file contracts formed prior to a fork activation will continue to be honored on both chains until they expire. Finally, the Foundation also intends to pursue scalability solutions for the Sia blockchain. In particular, work has already begun on an implementation of Utreexo, which will greatly reduce the space requirements of fully-validating nodes (allowing a full node to be run on a smartphone) while increasing throughput and decreasing initial sync time. A hardfork implementing Utreexo will be submitted to the community as per the process detailed above. As this is the most important responsibility of the Foundation, it will receive a significant portion of the Foundation’s budget, primarily in the form of developer salaries and contracting agreements.
Support community services
We intend to allocate 25% of the Foundation Fund towards the community. This allocation will be held and disbursed in the form of siacoins, and will pay for grants, bounties, hackathons, and other community-driven endeavours. Any community-run service, such as a Skynet portal, explorer or web wallet, may apply to have its costs covered by the Foundation. Upon approval, the Foundation will reimburse expenses incurred by the service, subject to the exact terms agreed to. The intent of these grants is not to provide a source of income, but rather to make such services "break even" for their operators, so that members of the community can enrich the Sia ecosystem without worrying about the impact on their own finances.
Ensure easy acquisition and storage of siacoins
Most users will acquire their siacoins via an exchange. The Foundation will provide support to Sia-compatible exchanges, and pursue relevant integrations at its discretion, such as Coinbase's new Rosetta standard. The Foundation may also release DEX software that enables trading cryptocurrencies without the need for a third party. (The Foundation itself will never operate as a money transmitter.) Increasingly, users are storing their cryptocurrency on hardware wallets. The Foundation will maintain the existing Ledger Nano S integration, and pursue further integrations at its discretion. Of course, all hardware wallets must be paired with software running on a computer or smartphone, so the Foundation will also develop and/or maintain client-side wallet software, including both full-node wallets and "lite" wallets. Community-operated wallet services, i.e. web wallets, may be funded via grants. Like core software maintenance, this responsibility will be funded in the form of developer salaries and contracting agreements.
Protect the ecosystem
When it comes to cryptocurrency security, patching software vulnerabilities is table stakes; there are significant legal and social threats that we must be mindful of as well. As such, the Foundation will earmark a portion of its fund to defend the community from legal action. The Foundation will also safeguard the network from 51% attacks and other threats to network security by implementing softforks and/or hardforks where necessary. The Foundation also intends to assist in the development of a new FOSS software license, and to solicit legal memos on various Sia-related matters, such as hosting in the United States and the EU. In a broader sense, the establishment of the Foundation makes the ecosystem more robust by transferring core development to a more neutral entity. Thanks to its funding structure, the Foundation will be immune to various forms of pressure that for-profit companies are susceptible to.
Drive adoption of Sia
Although the overriding goal of the Foundation is to make Sia the best platform it can be, all that work will be in vain if no one uses the platform. There are a number of ways the Foundation can promote Sia and get it into the hands of potential users and developers. In-person conferences are understandably far less popular now, but the Foundation can sponsor and/or participate in virtual conferences. (In-person conferences may be held in the future, permitting circumstances.) Similarly, the Foundation will provide prizes for hackathons, which may be organized by community members, Nebulous, or the Foundation itself. Lastly, partnerships with other companies in the cryptocurrency space—or the cloud storage space—are a great way to increase awareness of Sia. To handle these responsibilities, one of the early priorities of the Foundation will be to hire a marketing director.
The Foundation Fund will be controlled by a multisig address. Each member of the Foundation's board will control one of the signing keys, with the signature threshold to be determined once the final composition of the board is known. (This threshold may also be increased or decreased if the number of board members changes.) Additionally, one timelocked signing key will be controlled by David Vorick. This key will act as a “dead man’s switch,” to be used in the event of an emergency that prevents Foundation board members from reaching the signature threshold. The timelock ensures that this key cannot be used unless the Foundation fails to sign a transaction for several months. On the 1st of each month, the Foundation will use its keys to transfer all siacoins in the Fund to two new addresses. The first address will be controlled by a high-security hot wallet, and will receive approximately one month's worth of Foundation expenditures. The second address, receiving the remaining siacoins, will be a modified version of the source address: specifically, it will increase the timelock on David Vorick's signing key by one month. Any other changes to the set of signing keys, such as the arrival or departure of board members, will be incorporated into this address as well. The Foundation Fund is allocated in SC, but many of the Foundation's expenditures must be paid in USD or other fiat currency. Accordingly, the Foundation will convert, at its discretion, a portion of its monthly withdrawals to fiat currency. We expect this conversion to be primarily facilitated by private "OTC" sales to accredited investors. The Foundation currently has no plans to speculate in cryptocurrency or other assets. Finally, it is important that the Foundation adds value to the Sia platform well in excess of the inflation introduced by the block subsidy. For this reason, the Foundation intends to provably burn, on a quarterly basis, any coins that it cannot allocate towards any justifiable expense. In other words, coins will be burned whenever doing so provides greater value to the platform than any other use. Furthermore, the Foundation will cap its SC treasury at 5% of the total supply, and will cap its USD treasury at 4 years’ worth of predicted expenses. Addendum: Hardfork Timeline We would like to see this proposal finalized and accepted by the community no later than September 30th. A new version of siad, implementing the hardfork, will be released no later than October 15th. The hardfork will activate at block 293220, which is expected to occur around 12pm EST on January 1st, 2021.
Addendum: Inflation specifics The total supply of siacoins as of January 1st, 2021 will be approximately 45.243 GS. The initial subsidy of 1.57 GS thus increases the supply by 3.47%, and the total annual inflation in 2021 will be at most 10.4% (if zero coins are burned). In 2022, total annual inflation will be at most 6.28%, and will steadily decrease in subsequent years.
We see the establishment of the Foundation as an important step in the maturation of the Sia project. It provides the ecosystem with a sustainable source of funding that can be exclusively directed towards achieving Sia's ambitious goals. Compared to other projects with far deeper pockets, Sia has always punched above its weight; once we're on equal footing, there's no telling what we'll be able to achieve. Nevertheless, we do not propose this change lightly, and have taken pains to ensure that the Foundation will act in accordance with the ideals that this community shares. It will operate transparently, keep inflation to a minimum, and respect the user's fundamental role in decentralized systems. We hope that everyone in the community will consider this proposal carefully, and look forward to a productive discussion.
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
There have been many recent posts about the blackmail email scam, so I have written this post and will keep it stickied until the posts about the scam die down. Blackmail email scams have that name because they started as an email spam campaign, however there have also been reports of these scams being sent via SMS and physical mail. If you are reading this because you have received one of these emails and you are worried, you can stop worrying. The blackmail email scam is a spam campaign that is sent out to thousands of addresses at a time. The threats are lies and you do not have anything to worry about. In many cases, the emails will contain some sort of privileged information about you such as your name, part or all of your phone number, and your password.The emails may also look like they were sent from your own email address. The data is gathered from data breaches, and if the email looks like it came from your account that is due to email spoofing. You can use the service Have I Been Pwned? to see if you are in any publicly known data breaches. If you receive an email that contains a password that you currently use, you should immediately change that. Current recommended password guidelines say that you should use a different, complex password for every account. You can generate and save passwords using a password manager for convenience. You should also be using two factor authentication using an app like Google Authenticator instead of receiving codes through SMS. Here are some news articles about this scam. Here is a story from Brian Krebs, and here is a story from the New York Times. Below are a few examples, but if you receive an email that is similar but not the same as the examples you see, that does not matter and does not mean that the email is real. The spammers constantly switch up their templates in order to bypass spam filters, so it's normal to receive an email that hasn't yet been posted online.
Hey, some time ago your computer was infected with my private malware, RAT (Remote Administration Tool). I know at the time of infection your passwords was: xxxxxxxxxxx My malware gave me full access to all your accounts, contacts and it also was possible to spy on you over your webcam. Sometimes when I was bored I was spying on you, then once you started to SATISFYING YOURSELF! At first I didn't knew how to react as I was shocked, then I decided to record you, I checked on google and found the software: Bandicam and it did the job. After that I removed my malware to not leave any traces and this email was sent from some hacked account. I can send the video of you to all your friends, contacts and publish it on social networks and the whole web. You can stop me and only I can help you out in this situation. Pay exactly 740$ in Bitcoin (BTC). It's easy to buy Bitcoin (BTC), for example here: https://paxful.com/buy-bitcoin , https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/ , https://www.kraken.com/ , or google another exchanger. My Bitcoin (BTC) wallet is: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Yes that's how the wallet looks like, copy and paste it, it's (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE) I give you 3 days time to pay. As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read, so the time is running. After receiving the payment, I will remove the video and you can life your live in peace like before. Learn from the mistake and update your browser before browsing the web next time! I know XXXX is one of your password on day of hack.. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1004. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1GohL1jDz8BapZhohN2Xry6AKPq6PiJrjw [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. I know xxxxxxxxxxxx is one of your password on day of hack.. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1013. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1KzA7GYSyvXCmPpojZ4qTbZGmjjbbSfwBg [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1002. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1JXvEapcRCvywymcrYZ1rcCfLfNZKri4LP [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. Hello! I'm the software engineer who hacked into your device's OS. I've been observing you for months now. The thing is, you've been infected with malware through the adult website you visited. In case you're not familiar with it, I'll explain. The Trojan infection gives me full access and control over your computer or any other device on your local. It means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on my camera and microphone, but you do not know about it. I also have access to all your contacts, social networking data and all your correspondence. Why didn't your antivirus detect any malware? A: My malware uses a driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours to keep your antivirus silent. I have made a video showing how you satisfy yourself on the left side of the screen, and on the right side you see the video you have been watching. With one click, I can send this video to all your contacts in the email and social networks. I can also publish access to all your emails and messaging apps that you use. If you want to prevent this, at that point: Transfer $400(USD) to my bitcoin wallet (if you do not know how to do it, then type in to Google: "Purchase a bitcoin"). My Bitcoin Wallet:1EGBGBptS9yKNPYYU9qUEoPNLptee8CEq9 After getting the payment, I will destroy the video and you won't hear from me again. I will provide you 50 hours (more than two days) to pay. I have a notice that you read this email and the timer started you opened it. Don't attempt to answer me. It doesn't make any sense (the sender's address is generated by random). Filing a complaint somewhere doesn't make sense, because this email cannot be tracked, and neither can my bitcoin address. I don't make mistakes. If I find that you shared this message with someone else, the video will be distributed immediately. Good luck with that. And here are some common keywords used in the email so that this thread can be found by people Googling the email: "Marlware, international hacker group, No person has compensated, very own video clip, software on the adult, porno sitio, one of your pass word, .br, specific pixel, sexual content web portal, a malware on the adult, a malware on the, double-screen, is a reasonable price tag for our little secret, you have a good taste lmao, I placed a malware on the adult vids, your browser began operating as a RDP, had been abusing yourself in front of computer display, you are one of those people that downloaded the malicious, I made a split-screen video, While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as, malware on the porn website and guess what, an unique pixel, you jerked off while watching an online video, When you pressed the play button the virus begins saving all the things thru, ja.scr, My malicious soft started your front cam, and also send the video link to all of yourfriends, I infected your gadget with a malware and now, AnywaysI downloaded all contacts, my program quickly got into your system, To a time where you jerk off watching","For the present moment I have at my disposal all, When you arouse sexually watching porno, In such a way all needed compromising material and contact, All information to yours SNSs user accounts, You watched sexual content portal and toss","Hello! WannaCry is back! All your, in front of the screen browsing adult stuff, As you flog the dummy watching, U are going to be offered 5 days after checking this notice, RAT 68006, the damnific malware, pastime and entertainment there, not my single victim, beat the dummy, buff the muffin, choke a chicken, front camera capturing video, with you frigging, with you chaturbating, with you masturbating, web digicam, U are going to have 5 dayss, i utilize just hacked wi, pressured this trojan to, glue a pair of videos, glue two videos, the RAT, if you want me to destroy this whole video, downloaded all contacts from your computer, your list of contacts or relatives will, I made a video that shows how you masturbate, hacked you through a virus in an ad on a porn website, my illiteracy, nоt mind on my illiterаcy, I рilfered all рrivy bаckground, videоtaре with yоur masturbаtion, my delеtеrious soft, cаmеra shооt the videоtaрe, you sеlf-аbusing, Differently I will send the video to all your colleagues and friends, your front-camera made the videotape with you self-abusing, RAT 98390 malware, the minute you went to one adult page, information to contact info I discovered on your devices and remember there is a lot of these, not including Double VPN As a result, I forced my malware to hook up to a mic, web camera and catch the video from it, poisoned a number of adult sites, video clip to fit on a single tv screen, This letter has invisible monitoring program inside and i will be aware of when you are going to check, doing ur stuff and a clip u jerked to, the investigation will last, I uploaded our malicious program on your device, furthermore malware saved exactly the video you chose, its a record with your wanking, friends will see u taking proper care of yourself, Your system is controlled by the malicious program, If you were more careful while playing with yourself, that whacking off to adult web-sites is, adult website which was poisoned with my malware, nor i think that jerking off to porn sites is really a gross thing, so I dgf lmao, proof just reply to this email with, if you want me to destroy all this compromising evidence, will send your video to 5 contacts, amount in Usd that can cope with this scenario, You are welcome to contact your local authorities, If you want proof, reply with, i pride myself in being apart of an internet group, so i dgf, I take good care of my being anonymous, information related to the RAT virus, been able get in to all ur units, to all of your contacts including, search engines like goo, case sensitive, so copy,, and at this moment I, It is a non-nego, don't waste my perso, thi s mes, back while visiting, showe ring, what should you do ?, porno webpage, this embarrassing situation, navigated to the page, bare-assed, on well-known websites and publications, I got an order from someone to kill you and your family, immediately kill your family, is an explosive device, My mercenary is, explosive device detonates, triggered your webcam, piquant websites, my exploit downloaded, replenish btc wallet, instantaneously erase, actual recorded material, neglect this email, my RAT trojan, video you jerked, I used keylogger, your disk dump, malware intercepts, installed a malware, remove your video footage, RAT onto your computer, greasy stimulating actions, excentric preferrables, porn web-page, to your Tax Department, network will be DDoS, friends, WannaCry, building a protection policy, in Tax Departament, Yours service going, we pass CloudFlare, hear fake-experts, backuped phone, -1663, of your joys, digits your phone, (porno), BIG pervert, both files and scale, naughty video clips, Soy un hacker, I installed spyware, n website with teen, malware on the porn website, very own recorded material""Marlware, international hacker group, No person has compensated, very own video clip, software on the adult, porno sitio, one of your pass word, specific pixel, sexual content web portal, a malware on the adult, a malware on the, double-screen, is a reasonable price tag for our little secret, you have a good taste lmao, I placed a malware on the adult vids, your browser began operating as a RDP, had been abusing yourself in front of computer display, you are one of those people that downloaded the malicious, I made a split-screen video, While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as, malware on the porn website and guess what, an unique pixel, you jerked off while watching an online video, When you pressed the play button the virus begins saving all the things thru, ja.scr, My malicious soft started your front cam, and also send the video link to all of yourfriends, I infected your gadget with a malware and now, AnywaysI downloaded all contacts, my program quickly got into your system, To a time where you jerk off watching","For the present moment I have at my disposal all, When you arouse sexually watching porno, In such a way all needed compromising material and contact, All information to yours SNSs user accounts, You watched sexual content portal and toss","Hello! WannaCry is back! All your, in front of the screen browsing adult stuff, As you flog the dummy watching, U are going to be offered 5 days after checking this notice, RAT 68006, the damnific malware, pastime and entertainment there, not my single victim, beat the dummy, buff the muffin, choke a chicken, front camera capturing video, with you frigging, with you chaturbating, with you masturbating, web digicam, U are going to have 5 dayss, i utilize just hacked wi, pressured this trojan to, glue a pair of videos, glue two videos, the RAT, if you want me to destroy this whole video, downloaded all contacts from your computer, your list of contacts or relatives will, I made a video that shows how you masturbate, hacked you through a virus in an ad on a porn website, my illiteracy, nоt mind on my illiterаcy, I рilfered all рrivy bаckground, videоtaре with yоur masturbаtion, my delеtеrious soft, cаmеra shооt the videоtaрe, you sеlf-аbusing, Differently I will send the video to all your colleagues and friends, your front-camera made the videotape with you self-abusing, RAT 98390 malware, the minute you went to one adult page, information to contact info I discovered on your devices and remember there is a lot of these, not including Double VPN As a result, I forced my malware to hook up to a mic, web camera and catch the video from it, poisoned a number of adult sites, video clip to fit on a single tv screen, This letter has invisible monitoring program inside and i will be aware of when you are going to check, doing ur stuff and a clip u jerked to, the investigation will last, I uploaded our malicious program on your device, furthermore malware saved exactly the video you chose, its a record with your wanking, friends will see u taking proper care of yourself, Your system is controlled by the malicious program, If you were more careful while playing with yourself, that whacking off to adult web-sites is, adult website which was poisoned with my malware, nor i think that jerking off to porn sites is really a gross thing, so I dgf lmao, proof just reply to this email with, if you want me to destroy all this compromising evidence, will send your video to 5 contacts, amount in Usd that can cope with this scenario, You are welcome to contact your local authorities, If you want proof, reply with, i pride myself in being apart of an internet group, so i dgf, I take good care of my being anonymous, information related to the RAT virus, been able get in to all ur units, to all of your contacts including, search engines like goo, case sensitive, so copy,, and at this moment I, It is a non-nego, don't waste my perso, thi s mes, back while visiting, showe ring, what should you do ?, porno webpage, this embarrassing situation, navigated to the page, bare-assed, on well-known websites and publications, I got an order from someone to kill you and your family, immediately kill your family, is an explosive device, My mercenary is, explosive device detonates, triggered your webcam, piquant websites, my exploit downloaded, replenish btc wallet, instantaneously erase, actual recorded material, neglect this email, my RAT trojan, video you jerked, I used keylogger, your disk dump, malware intercepts, installed a malware, remove your video footage, RAT onto your computer, greasy stimulating actions, excentric preferrables, porn web-page, to your Tax Department, network will be DDoS, friends, WannaCry, building a protection policy, in Tax Departament, Yours service going, we pass CloudFlare, hear fake-experts, backuped phone, -1663, of your joys, digits your phone, (porno), BIG pervert, both files and scale, naughty video clips, Soy un hacker, I installed spyware, n website with teen, malware on the porn website, very own recorded material, ιs yοur ραssρhrαse, after seeing the video of you jerking off, τhιηκ οf ιτ αs α dοηατιοη, split-screen video, 𝐄𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐩 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐚𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐨 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐞, 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐲𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭"
Edit: Currently writing a new version of this, dont know when it will be done. Edit: Since first post I have updated a few sections with additional information. I recommend reading it all even if it is very long, I might have placed some relevant info in different sections while thinking about what else needed to be added, plenty of steps remains mostly the same except when I comment directly on it. It is not necessary to do 100% security all the time, unless you absolutely need it, combining some high and some lower security ideas for a balance of security and convenience is useful. I will base this mostly on Windows, Linux users probably know this, and I have no idea how apple machines work (tho many things in here are still relevant for other operating systems, as they are just general tips) Disclaimer: There are certainly other steps that can make you more anonymous or safer, however I think for most people this will surfice. Any software I recommend should be independently verified for security, and examples of software are not to be taken as endorsements. I simply use examples and give recommendations when I believe it necessary, or helpful. I will not really differentiate between anonymity and security, they are often the same thing. As such the word security can mean either more anonymous, less vulnerable, or both. -------- Everyday Simple Info Sec:
Password for the device is an obvious one (8+ characters minimum, best if over +12), if there is sensitive information on any of the drives, either encrypt the entire drive or just the sensitive files, and make encrypted backups on a different memory storage device (There many programs to encrypt files and drives I'm sure a search will figure it out)
-There could be a hidden administrator user on your PC, make sure to change its password
Always use the device on a non admin account
a VPN that doesn't log (use with kill switch on, should be enough for everyday stuff, more safe stuff in the high security section) (VPNs that claim they don't log sometimes do, it's bad, but I would like to point out that not using a VPN will always expose your traffic to your ISP and also remove additional encryption. Even if the VPN tracks, there is no downside because your ISP would track anyways, and VPNs can be more anonymous, and also add extra encryption)
disable location tracking (preferably make all your privacy setting to release minimal info, get rid or cortana, change privacy settings in all of your accounts as well, there's no reason why you should allow Facebook to give you target ads. Use the setting they give you.
TOR, Firefox or similar browser, stay the fuck away from Google Chrome.
your preferred search engine should be duckduckgo (other privacy focused search engines exist as well)
use an adblocker that also prevents the adding of tacking cookies
Use pgp with all your friends or messaging services that implemented end to end encryption (Implemented services can still be bypassed, but are way more convenient so for everyday use they should suffice, some examples should be Telegraph, Signal, WhatsApp etc) (more info on pgp in high security section)
(Snapchat msgs, reddit dms, discord msgs, are just a few examples of msgs that are never encrypted) -Any info even send in encrypted msgs (and obviously non encrypted) should still be kept with possible deniability, don't say "I'm gonna do MDMA", say "I'm going out with molly."
use software (like ccleaner) that purges cookies and other data after every use, before shutting down your device
use a virus scanner daily (I like spy bot Search and destroy, many other options also exist)
never use the same password/passphrase twice (I will address what passphrase are below) (Better yet use randomized passwords that are stored in a master key chain, make them as long as possible (tho it is okay to go with the minimum of 12 never go below 7, I recommend 15+ depending on how often you have to manually enter the password instead of copying/pasting it) Don't generate too long keys for things you need to access regularly without copy/paste, except your master key ring)
its ideal to never use the same email or username as well, especially username, email is obviously tricky and also very annoying, but it would be best to always change the email.
-DO NOT STORE ANY PASSWORDS ON GOOGLE, IF GOOGLE LOGIN IS AUTHENTICATED IT WILL AUTFILL ALL PASSWORDS IT HAS SAVED (same with other similar services) (This means if you are logged in to chrome and someone has access to your machine, they can auto fill passwords without entering a single password) -use a rememberable passphrase, especially for your master key ring aka password manager A long sentence that is memorable makes an okay password (decent example,: "I met my wife at Little Ceasers for the first time on 07/09/20" better even if it's just something you know, if its impersonal, and if you can add special characters or numbers that you won't forget) (A better example for a passphrase is: "There is 0nly 0ne letter that d0esn’t appear in any U.S. state nameQ")
for your main password manager(key ring), I highly recommend Keepass 2, make backups of the file save to separate devices and drives (Flash drives, phone, PC, laptop, etc, if you loose that file, you lose all of your passwords) (Other good password managers exist as well, I don't recommend online password managers as you lose the control over passwords)
-Purge your internet activity frequently, there's a reason why I only have one post, and a few comments appearing in my account, but thousands of kama. Exposing information needlessly is not good. -Never post private information publicly, and if you do, do it vaguely as possible. (Example: Not "I'm 15", say "I'm a teenager") Do not post any vital information ever, no birthdays, mother's maiden name, age, or anything you have ever seen in a security question. Never post your current activities while they are ongoing. You going on a vacation? Don't announce it to the world, taking picture there? Post them when you are home.
Any account that is supposed to remain anonymous and as secure as possible should only be used on secured devices. A unsecured device can link you to the account.
always shutdown your machine when leaving it (To prevent access, and to prevent a possible attack vector)
2 factor factor authentication is not great anymore. Unless you can do it over a anonymous source. A cell phone is usually directly connected to you, so it is not a anonymous device. There might still be secure/anonymous 2 factor authentication methods that won't expose you, for example over a secure email. (If there is 2FA that doesn't need a device that removes anonymity and is secure, use it.) (Please don't misunderstand, 2FA is great, however it can remove the anonymity that you worked hard to establish)
-Rethink how you do security questions. Many answers to security questions can be found in your internet history. One could use the first word of the security question as an answer, or a different sceme that will mean you always remember it. (Security question need to go, the amount of personal info an average person puts on the internet makes it easy to attack anything using security question) -------_ High level crimimal information security: The motto here is, "All the Security, All the Time" As one fuck up can end with you leaving a lick of traceability, and you could be fucked. Pre Note: All of your software should always be up to date. Also even perfect info sec does not guarantee you are completely safe, a new zero day (exploit) can still fuck you, but good info security makes you significantly safer, by eliminating as many attacks as possible. -Get a new device (or make a already owned device seem like you never owned it, do this only if you know how to, there's a lot of stuff that goes into that, like changing your mac adress etc) buy with cash, and your face covered, preferably far away from where you live. (Do I need to specify to not bring your phone or anything else that tracks your location to anywhere you want to go anonymously?) (Be aware that even hardware can have vulnerabilities, many cpus have known vulnerabilities, I can't list them all, do some research before buying)
Do not EVER use a high security device at any lower level of security. There are unique identifiers to your device, exposing them once can expose you for everything you do.
-If you know how to use Tails (A linux distro designed for Info sec) use that, preferably on a USB. (Or learn how to use tails, its better, but complicated) Otherwise a clean copy of windows (make sure its not in any way associated with you) can do the job too, tho not as well. (Using a VM might give extra security, since VMs usually erase all data and RAM they were using on shutdown) -Get a non tracking VPN, Enable the kill switch (a setting that disables all traffic that doesn't go through the VPN) (change your firewall settings to only allow the traffic from the VPN, windows guide (Change settings so only traffic from the tor application is send) Edit: (Due to complaints: do not use vpn over tor, use tor over vpn. tor over vpn has no notable downside, if the VPN logs it makes no difference, your ISP will always log anyways, and vpns remove other attack vectors and also provide backup security should tor fail. Again even if the VPN tracks you only change the people doing the tracking, but now you are further removed making it more anonymous and also with less vulnerabilities) -rember privacy settings, cookie cleaner, and antivirus, password (There could be a hidden administrator user on your PC, make sure to change its password) -Always use the device on a non admin account
-Ideally use this device only on networks that are not connected with you. Such as public networks (try to never use the same public networks twice, move around) (a home network should be fine now, as it should never be exposed, but more security is always better) (Its just a conveniences vs security trade) -Never use accounts that have been exposed to lower security on higher security machines -your browser is now TOR (or your preferred security focused browser, if you dont plan on using onion ) Make sure you get the standalone version of tor not the addon build (the standalone is safer, because there are less settings and options to tweak) -Change your tor settings, to safest mode, enable a bridge (to my knowledge there's no difference in security between the build in bridges in tor), enable automatic updates, set duckduckgo onion as your primary browser. Set dark.fail onion page as your home page. (Or your preferred privacy search engine and onion directory)
set up a new pgp (can't use the same one you use for regular use, again less safer accounts are never used on safer devices) Cleopatra is my choice, its simple to use. Make sure you back up the private key multiple times, on safe devices. (Dont let the private key fall into anyone's hands) Give it a generic name like "HighSecurityPGP" do not give the pgp key pair a name that could identify you. (No initials etc) (Some pgp key pair programs want an associated email for a key pair, you can create a safe email, or which I recoend you can use a different program (like Cleopatra) (Feds & LEOs are known to copy private keys if they have your machine, so you will need to set up a new key pair if they ever take a device with a private key copy)
a high security machine that facilitates criminal activity can not use many programs. Many programs collect your devices mac adress, which is a unique identifier, amongst other things. It's should be used only for the activity you want to do.
-------_ How to use dark net markets (DNMs) If you finished your High Security setup, we can dive right in. Otherwise go do that. This is where all that is essential. Quick info on Tor, and onion sites. There is no search engine. It's all based of directories and addresses you are given by others. Tor will likely not be very quick, it has to pass through multiple networks to get to the destination. DNMs sometimes exit scam, an exit scam is when a market shuts down completely and takes all the money, this is a risk when using DNMs, it's not too common but happens maybe 0-4 times a year. The admins of thoese servers need to get out at some point, before they get jailed, so they exit the game, and scam everyone out of their money. -A very useful onion directory is dark.fail it has a lot of links, for all kinds of stuff. News, email, DNMs, Psychonautwiki (harm reduction website), forums etc. (Other directories also exist) -Pick a market, preferably one that handles secure connection server side instead of requiring you to establish the secure connection. Then create an account. Your account once created should include an entry box in your profile for a pgp key, post your PUBLIC key in there. (Verify the link is not a scam, most markets should provide a pgp signature) -Next is currency setup. All major cryptocurrency exchangers can be used, I can recommend coin base but there could be better ones out there. Unless you find a small non U.S., exchange, they will always ask for your identity. So unless you can find a trustworthy exchange that doesn't ID, you will need to give it to them. (Side note, all major crypto exchangers report to the IRS, if the IRS asks you if you bought cryptocurrency and you bought while having IDed yourself SAY YES, DO NOT COMMIT TAX FRAUD WHEN THEY KNOW YOU DID)
I recommend using Monero, it's hard to track, so it makes your job a lot easier. (If you use bitcoin you should run it through a scrambler, because BTC is tracable to anyone who knows what they are doing)
-Transfer (monero you can send directly, btc you should scramble) to your wallet. There are two options a cold wallet (physical) or a software wallet. Software wallets usually dont cost anything so I recommend them, even if often less safe. Electrum is easy to use, and pretty safe. You can also do your own research and find a wallet that fits your needs.
decide where you want to ship it. You can send to your home, to a PO box, to a PO box that you opened with a fake ID (I don't recommend), an abandoned house, general mail (sending to a post office instead of a street adress) pickup up with fake ID, use a remailing service. These are some options, sending it to your own home, isn't ideal, but its pretty much the only easy way.
-now you are ready to buy, only buy using escrow (it means the money is held by the market as a middle man until the product is delivered, they will also handle any issues like wrong quantity, cuts, etc), judge the reviews for a product, and if available look at the history of the vendor, until you find a product from a vendor you trust. (I recommend to buy within your country as much as possible, so it doesn't go through customs, it's very rare that something is found, but it can happen) -now you get to buy, depending on market, you either have cryptocurrency stored in their wallets (not recommend, you will lose it in an exit scam) or you can send it every order. When you send your delivery adress (or the one you want it to go to) encrypt the adress using the sellers public key. Make sure the adress is correct. -wait for the product, make sure to extend the escrow until the product arrives, if you can't extend it anymore dispute the order, and a moderator will step in -test the product, use it, and leave a review. PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW, DNMs only work because of reviews. Edit: Didn't imagine I would write over 15000 words. Oh well, it was fun. Hope it helps, if you have any questions feel free to ask. No idea how long this will stay up, I might purge it in 7 days, or never.
What I currently use for privacy (after almost 2 years of long investing into it)
[Discussion] Let's talk about CakeWallet and how it's "marketed" here
Hello to all, First, I want to start this discussion by specifying that I have nothing against CakeWallet, I only want to talk about their marketing on this sub-reddit nothing else. For the past few months, I've been following this sub-reddit on a regular basis as I'm a big Monero user. I look at a lot of questions and hesitate very regularly to create an account to answer them. In doing so, I often notice new users asking how to switch from Bitcoin to Monero or others asking for a wallet where to store them. I have nothing against CakeWallet "ads" when the person themselves are looking for a place to store them (when it's not excessive) but on the other hand, I find it goes too far when a user asks how to get Monero. This is where I think the dilemma begins. I see far too many "Use CakeWallet it offers exchange!" messages on this kind of request, if this wallet offered an internal exchange solution where no other third party is involved I would agree with it, but in this case it's not. The 2 exchangers are available online and the exchange can be done WITHOUT the need to download the application and make the exchange on it. In this case, many will say to me "But they need a wallet" or "It's more safe!" but in most cases, these users already use a wallet and don't expect to be given another one just to make an exchange, regarding the fact that it's more "secure", giving a link directly or giving the list of possible exchanges from the official website seems more suitable to me. Here are some examples of what I am talking about: 1- https://www.reddit.com/Monero/comments/iirl1m/should_i_trust_bitni/g38xq9x/ 2- https://www.reddit.com/Monero/comments/ihl3z2/dumb_question_but/g3296x1/ 3- https://www.reddit.com/Monero/comments/igh5sd/watch_out_fake_morphtoken_website/g2vjb0u/ 4- https://www.reddit.com/Monero/comments/id105b/reverse_xmrto/g265wiy/ | https://www.reddit.com/Monero/comments/id105b/reverse_xmrto/g26zb80/ I agree with advertising in general, especially when it affects Monero, but isn't that a bit too much? Shouldn't Rule 6 come into play in such cases? Knowing that CakeWallet is a company that delivers a product, it should fall under this rule and should be limited, I find that this kind of post is just a loophole to propagate the idea of this wallet. As time goes by, I hardly see "Use the official wallet" or any other such option. Wouldn't it be a good idea to share official documentation about wallets and exchanges in general, which would allow the user to make an unbiased choice? (https://web.getmonero.org/ - Get Started "Choose a Wallet" and "Get Some Coins") Again, I underline the fact that I have nothing against CakeWallet, I use it myself when I can't access my computer, I just find their way to advertise really excessive and would have liked to talk about it with all of you. Constructive answers are welcome!
Hello visitors and subscribers of scams! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.
Caller ID spoofing It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you. Email spoofing The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created. SMS spoofing SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scams
The fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part) The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
General fraudulent funds scams If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent. Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it. Bitcoin job scams Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins. Email flooding If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere. Cartel scam You will be threatened by scammers who claim to be affiliated with a cartel. They may send you gory pictures and threaten your life and the lives of your family. Usually the victim will have attempted to contact an escort prior to the scam, but sometimes the scammers target people randomly. If you are targeted by a cartel scam all you need to do is ignore the scammers as their threats are clearly empty. Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse. Employment certification scams You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist. Craigslist fake payment scams Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule. Craigslist Carfax/vehicle history scam You'll encounter a scammer on Craigslist who wants to buy the vehicle you have listed, but they will ask for a VIN report from a random site that they have created and they will expect you to pay for it. Double dip/recovery scammers This is a scam aimed at people who have already fallen for a scam previously. Scammers will reach out to the victim and claim to be able to help the victim recover funds they lost in the scam. General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter. Credit card debt scam Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement. The parcel mule scam A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods. The Skype sex scam You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account. The underage girl scam You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money. Phishing Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious. The blackmail email scam part 5: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5/ PSA: you did not win a giftcard: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/fffmle/psa_you_did_not_win_a_gift_card/ Sugar scams Sugar scammers operate all over the internet and usually come in two varieties: advance-fee scams where the scammer will ask for a payment from you before sending you lots of money, and fake check style scams where the scammer will either pull a classic fake check scam, or will do a "bill pay" style scam that involves them paying your bills, or them giving you banking information to pay your bills. If you encounter these scammers, report their accounts and move on. Google Hangouts Google Hangouts is a messaging platform used extensively by all kinds of scammers. If you are talking with someone online and they want you to switch to Hangouts, they are likely a scammer and you should proceed with caution. Publishers Clearing House scams PCH scams are often advance-fee scams, where you will be promised lots of money after you make an initial payment. You will never need to pay if you win money from the real PCH. Pet scams You are looking for a specific breed of puppy, bird, or other pet. You come across a nice-looking website that claims to be breeding them and has some available right now - they may even be on sale! The breeders are not local to your area (and may not even list a physical location) but they assure you they can safely ship the pet to you after a deposit or full payment. If you go through with the payment, you will likely be contacted by the "shipper" who will inform you about an unexpected shipping/customs/processing fee required to deliver your new pet. But there was never any pet, both the "breeder" and the "shipper" are scammers, typically operating out of Africa. These sites are rampant and account for a large percentage of online pet seller websites - they typically have a similar layout/template (screenshot - example) If you are considering buying a pet online, some easy things to check are: (1) The registration date of the domain (if it was created recently it is likely a scam website) (2) Reverse image search the pictures of available pets - you will usually find other scam websites using the same photos. (3) Copy a sentence/section of the text from the "about us" page and put it into google (in quotes) - these scammers often copy large parts of their website's text from other places. (4) Search for the domain name and look for entries on petscams.com or other scam-tracking sites. (5) Strongly consider buying/adopting your pet from a local shelter or breeder where you can see the animal in person before putting any money down. Thanks to djscsi for this entry. Fake shipping company scams These scams usually start when you try to buy something illegal online. You will be scammed for the initial payment, and then you will receive an email from the fake shipping company telling you that you need to pay them some sort of fee or bribe. If you pay this, they will keep trying to scam you with increasingly absurd stories until you stop paying, at which point they will blackmail you. If you are involved in this scam, all you can do is ignore the scammers and move on, and try to dispute your payments if possible. Chinese Upwork scam Someone will ask you to create an Upwork or other freelancer site account for them and will offer money in return. You will not be paid, and they want to use the accounts to scam people. Quickbooks invoice scam This is a fake check style scam that takes advantage of Quickbooks. The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam. The blackmail mail scam This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail. Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse. Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on. Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum. Man in the middle scams Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to. Digit wallet scam A variation of the fake check scam, the scammer sends you money through a digital wallet (i.e. Venmo, Apple Pay, Zelle, Cash App) along with a message claiming they've sent the money to the wrong person and a request to send the money back. Customer service for these digital wallets may even suggest that you send the money back. However, the money sent is from a stolen credit card and will be removed from your account after a few days. Your transfer is not reversed since it came from your own funds. Cam girl voting/viewer scam You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories. Amateur porn recruitment scam You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer. Hot girl SMS spam You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card. Identity verification scam You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to. This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website. Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls. Tax Call You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world. Warrant Call Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards. [Legal Documents/Process Server Calls] Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program. Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam. Chinese government scam This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats. Chinese shipping scam This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators. Social security suspension scam You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information. Utilities cutoff You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin. Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same. Mexican family scam This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help. General family scams Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money. One ring scam Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scams
THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dropshipping An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer. Influencer scams A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products. Triangulation fraud Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer. Instagram influencer scams Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time. Cheap Items Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off. Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam. Scams on eBay There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month. Scams on Amazon There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items. Scams on Reddit Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online. Computer scams Virus scam A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Chinese Brushing / direct shipping If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings. Money flipping Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
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