You, and probably a large percentage of your friends, are likely to have received an email from someone in Africa who needs you to help them get millions out of the country and if you help them you will be receive payment for your services. This scam is old, but it is persistent; you have to give the scammers that. There are plenty more of these types of emails, some of them more subtle than others, such as the ones from Paypal or Amazon that look like the real thing. You have to look closely to realise they aren’t from those companies at all, but from impostors.
$670 million lost in crypto fraud
There is also a new breed of fraud perpetrated by crypto scammers who have so far relied on the fact that “short cons carried out using crypto are hard to detect and almost impossible to trace,” as Jonas Karlberg writes in Medium. He also reveals that an estimated $670 million has been lost through crypto fraud in the first quarter of 2018 alone, which shows the extent of the problem.
The most common way that crypto cons work is through phishing emails. An old tool for a new game, you might say. One example is where a ‘victim’ is sent to a cloned version of a crypto project’s social media account, where they are likely to be enticed to open their wallet address in return for an incentive, such as free tokens. The person then eventually realises they haven’t received a receipt for their payment, but by then the funds have gone and so have the scammers.
AI provides an army of protector bots
However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is offering ways to fight this online fraud. One company, AmaZix is using bots to fight the ‘con’ bots. These bots can delete content and ban users before the public have even spotted them. Karlberg describes the management by moderators of the ongoing battle in online crypto communities as “generals presiding over enormous AI battles,” with the ‘good’ bots defending users against the scambots.
AI is developing in power and complexity and it is enabling cyber security firms to trawl even larger areas of digital space. The people operating the scambots don’t have the resources to match the funds put into developing protector bots by security firms, which does give the good guys an advantage. Of course, nobody in this sector can ever rest, because the con men will always be looking for a new way to break through the battlements, but as blockchain technology gains in mass adoption, the AI will become more sophisticated and powerful, which is good news for the public and bad news for fraudsters.