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December 28, 2023

Scammers Drain $3 Million in Crypto with Holiday-themed Google Ads

In a shocking revelation, a recent report exposes a festive crypto heist where scammers made off with a staggering $3M

'Tis the season for giving, but for some unfortunate crypto enthusiasts, scammers played the Grinch this holiday, swindling over $3 million through a cunning scheme. In a disturbing revelation, a recent report exposes how these digital miscreants leveraged fake websites promoted on Google Ads to execute a devious wallet-draining scam. Join us as we unravel the details of this festive heist that took advantage of the holiday spirit to prey on unsuspecting victims.

This festive season turned grim for many as scammers exploited the goodwill of Google Ads to orchestrate a staggering $3 million cryptocurrency theft. The assailants meticulously crafted counterfeit versions of popular crypto platforms such as Zapper, Lido, and DefiLlama, cunningly employing Google's advertising system to lure victims into their trap. Once on the fake websites, victims unwittingly approved transactions that siphoned their crypto holdings into the scammers' coffers.

The perpetrators utilized a malicious service known as MS Drainer to automate and enforce unauthorized withdrawals, capitalizing on the vulnerability of token approval processes on blockchains like Ethereum. Disturbingly, the scammers successfully evaded Google's ad screening practices by employing regional targeting and frequently switching landing pages, outsmarting the auditing systems designed to detect phishing scams.

The scale of the operation is staggering, with over 10,000 fraudulent sites linked to the MS Drainer service, reaching its peak activity in November. Since March 2023, MS Drainer has drained a jaw-dropping $60 million in crypto from over 63,000 victims. This service, available on hacking forums for a flat fee of $1,499, allowed would-be scammers to launch their own wallet-draining schemes, with additional features unlockable for $699 to $999.

This incident is part of a concerning trend in decentralized finance, marked by a surge in wallet-draining hacking attacks. The notorious Inferno draining tool retired after allegedly stealing over $80 million, and the Monkey Drainer service bowed out after siphoning an estimated $13 million. As cryptocurrency adoption grows, hackers are deploying increasingly sophisticated techniques, emphasizing the need for investors to remain vigilant and rely on trusted platforms.

In a crypto landscape teeming with innovation, the dark underbelly of scams and heists looms large. This recent $3 million holiday heist serves as a stark reminder that cybercriminals are relentless, especially during festive seasons. As we usher in a new year, the onus falls not only on individual investors to remain vigilant against phishing attempts but also on digital advertising leaders like Google to enhance security measures. The rise of crypto threats necessitates a collective effort to combat scams at scale. Stay alert, crypto holders, for in this digital age, a secure holiday season requires more than just good cheer.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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