A network of malicious QR code generators has stolen more than $40,000 from Bitcoin (BTC) users in one month.
At least nine fake Bitcoin-to-QR code generators have been spotted in recent weeks, with security researcher, Harry Denley, first tweeting that he had identified two domains hosting fake QR code applications on March 22.
Denley later identified seven other domains sharing the same interface — suggesting that they are all created by the same developer.
Fake Bitcoin QR code generators steal over 7 BTC
The malicious programs promise to convert a user’s Bitcoin address into a QR code, claiming to eliminate the risk of the user losing their funds as a result of typos when entering or sharing their address — a service offered by every popular block explorer and most mobile wallet applications.
However, the QR code generated by the programs is always the same address — diverting the victims’ funds to the malicious program’s developers. The supposed QR generators correspond to five different wallets, which have absorbed more than seven BTC, likely from the apps’ victims.
The malicious websites are bitcoin-barcode-generator.com, bitcoinaddresstoqrcode.com, bitcoins-qr-code.com, btc-to-qr.com, create-bitcoin-qr-code.com, free-bitcoin-qr-codes.com, freebitcoinqrcodes.com, qr-code-bitcoin.com, and qrcodebtc.com.
‘Bitcoin transaction accelerators’ accumulate 17.6 BTC
The websites are hosted by three different servers that collectively host roughly 450 other websites that appear sketchy — with the sites featuring keywords related to coronavirus, Gmail, and various cryptocurrencies.
Among the sites are several purported “Bitcoin transaction accelerators,” which claim to speed up BTC transfers in exchange for a 0.001 BTC. The BTC addresses associated with the supposed ‘accelerators’ have absorbed more than 17.6 BTC — taking in nearly $110,000.
Crypto scams capitalize on coronavirus fears
Opportunistic scammers have sought to capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic — with UK county regulators, the Texas State Securities Board, and the US Commodity Futures Trade Commission issuing warnings about the proliferation of coronavirus crypto scams over the past week.
Recent scams have also impersonated the World Health Organization in an attempt to siphon donations, and taken the form of apps purporting to track the spread of coronavirus.