In 2018 several young hackers were obtained by Federal Agents and charged for Hacking, Identity Fraud and Theft. The scheme is quite simple, Hackers will collect data through simple Social Engineering, meaning they will use pieces of data they have collected about you until they can call your cellular provider and change the SIM Card Data to a new device. At that point they can text people within your contact list and request funds using ploys such as an emergency and the need for fairly large amount of money, it is usually going to be in the form of Bitcoin.
The culprits can sometimes be narrowed down with classic methods such as the “Venn Diagram.” Usually they are people you may already know who have teamed up with a Hacker, or a Hacker working as an individual. This has been the case in the Cryptocurrency arena, which has been known to be ripe for Scamming and Fraud. These bad actors will befriend you, try and collect as much information as possible before engaging in an attack to separate you from your funds.
Is Paranoia the only measure to be deployed? If you are working in a new field such as Blockchain, then yes. I would go as far as saying some of the closest people you know through the “space” could be suspect. Never share too much information if you are not that well acquainted with the individual. Be wary of anyone asking what sort of projects you plan to invest in, or how much Cryptocurrency you currently have. These are all Social Engineering questions these predators intend to share with Hackers to scam you.
As I mentioned before, some of these individuals could represent the face of a trusted company, and still go after you. If you receive any odd messages or requests from close friends, be very cautious if this does not match their typical behaviors. Always verify by making a phone call to the person and avoid texting as you will be able to identify them through their voice if you know them well enough. Do not share your e-mail address as it may contain attachments which can harm you.
Luckily, this emerging field is small enough to be able to shake out bad actors as the initial perpetrators have created an obvious environment of mistrust. There is a saying in Crypto and also a known Russian Proverb:
“Trust but Verify.”