We’ve observed a 419-style scam (also known as an advance fee scam) which combines the promise of cryptocurrency riches with WhatsApp conversation.

The mail, which arrived with the subject “Urgent respond”, begins as follows:

Greetings to you my friend,

My name is Haifa Kalfan, I am the Store manager with a Security Firm here in Malaysia . I need your urgent assistance to transfer funds out of this firm. I cannot directly achieve this without the help of a foreigner and that is why I am contacting you. All documents to enable the smooth release of this fund to you will be carefully worked out and there will be practically no risk involved, this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of law as a change of fund ownership certificate in your name will be legally initiated.

A fairly typical opening. Claiming to be in a reassuring position of power, along with the promise of being protected from any “breach of law”. Are you ready for things to go a bit Blockchain? Because they’re about to go a bit Blockchain.

Things go a bit Blockchain

This is the part of the scam where the people behind it start to get technical. Folks already involved in cryptocurrency would likely have suspicions raised after reading the below. Those with no prior experience may think somebody is suggesting an unfamiliar yet safe way to make a fortune.

A perfect arrangement is in place for the release of the fund to you without hitches through crypto currency which you may call bitcoin if you want. This measure was thought of due to the difficulties in transferring huge funds from one country to another, because of global fight on illicit movement of funds to sponsor terrorism. Transferring the fund to you through bitcoin is a perfect way. You will have to create a BLOCK CHAIN ACCOUNT on your phone, but you will first download the blockchain application on your phone, register an account and send the QR code to the financial institution, the fund will immediately be transferred into your blockchain account within 24 hours as soon as you send your blockchain QR code to the the department of any of our paying banks responsible for crypto currency transactions.

This is a long-winded way of asking would-be victims to install an app and begin transferring funds. Regular readers will be aware this means someone is about to have their bank account emptied, or have themselves turned into a money mule. If they’re really unlucky, both of these things are on the cards.

Confidence tricksters

Here’s the part where they attempt to keep would-be victims talking. It’s all about that personal touch in the land of cryptocurrency scams.

If you are ready, I will have to send you the director of the cryptocurrency department WhatsApp number, you will have to chat him up on WhatsApp for more details and guidelines. I will secure a legal certificate of fund ownership change through our firm’s legal team which you will forward.

This is nothing more than “the place the specifics of the scam unfold”. We did attempt to make contact and find out:

  • Which app they want people to use and
  • What the process is once the scam takes hold on WhatsApp, but at time of writing we’ve received no reply. Should we happen to get one, we’ll update this blog post in due course.

A multifaceted approach to scamming

With cryptocurrency being so widespread, it’s possible folks with digital money in the bank could be completely cleaned out. Whether the victim is someone tech-savvy or somebody who simply thinks they see a good thing, it will only end in disaster.

The email we received was already flagged as spam by Gmail, so it’s possible other spam filters have already marked this one out too. This style of missive is incredibly popular and costs folks a fortune every year. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” may be a little tired and worn around the edges these days, but it’s 100% accurate in this case. Should you receive a mail similar to the above, flag it as spam and send it straight to the trash bin.