How to identify fake giveaways like "APECOIN Airdrop"

Also Known As: Fake APECOIN Airdrop
Damage level: Medium

What is the fake "APECOIN Airdrop"?

We have inspected the page and found that it is a fake site mimicking the original ApeCoin website (apecoin[.]com). Scammers created this fake page to steal cryptocurrency from individuals, using an offer to receive cryptocurrency for free as a lure. It is important to check the legitimacy of such offers before taking any action.

APECOIN Airdrop scam

The fake "APECOIN Airdrop" site in detail

ApeCoin is an ERC-20 token integral to the APE Ecosystem, driving decentralized community development in the Web3 space. Holders engage in self-governance through the ApeCoin DAO, directing the use of the ApeCoin DAO Ecosystem Fund via voting. The real ApeCoin site is apecoin[.]com.

We found that the fake ApeCoin site (a screenshot of this site is provided above) offers individuals the opportunity to participate in the first public airdrop (giveaway) launched by the ApeCoin DAO. It says that participants need to connect their wallets before they can claim APE tokens. However, users sign a malicious contract by connecting a wallet via this fake website.

By signing this contract, users unknowingly activate a cryptocurrency drainer designed to steal their crypto funds. This drainer transfers cryptocurrency holdings from the victims' wallet to the one controlled by scammers. Unfortunately, crypto transactions are irreversible. Thus, victims of fake airdrops utilizing drainers lose their assets permanently.

Therefore, it is important to thoroughly research crypto projects (including airdrops) to ensure their legitimacy and credibility to avoid losing crypto assets or encountering other problems.

Threat Summary:
Name Fake APECOIN Airdrop
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Participants can receive APE tokens for free
Disguise Legitimate aidrop launched by ApeCoin DAO
Symptoms Unofficial domain, lack of official verification, unrealistic claims, too good-to-be-true promises.
Distribution methods Compromised social media accounts, hijacked WordPress sites, rogue online pop-up ads, phishing emails, unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
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The number of fake cryptocurrency airdrops (giveaways) is growing rapidly, and scammers are becoming increasingly adept at devising new ways to prey on unwary individuals. It is crucial for users to be skeptical about offers to receive free tokens or other rewards and always double-check platforms before transferring cryptocurrency, connecting wallets, or performing other actions.

Some examples of similar scams are the fake "Hedgies Giveaway", "LiquidEther Airdrop", and "MODE Airdrop".

How did I open a scam website?

Scammers often use hijacked WordPress websites and stolen social media accounts to trick users into opening fake websites offering to participate in cryptocurrency airdrops and other scams. They also use deceptive advertisements, pop-ups, notifications from shady sites, and similar channels to promote their scams.

Additionally, ads displayed by adware, links in fraudulent emails, and pages that utilize rogue advertising networks (e.g., illegal movie streaming pages and torrent sites) are used to trick users into opening scam websites.

How to avoid visiting scam pages?

Exercise caution when clicking on links in emails, social media posts, or online advertisements. Do not allow shady websites to send you notifications or use P2P networks, third-party app stores, unofficial sites, etc., for downloading apps. Always download software from official websites and app stores, and never install pirated software.

Also, keep all apps and the operating system up to date and use reputable antivirus or anti-malware software to conduct thorough scans and promptly remove any detected threats. If your computer is already infected with unwanted apps, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of the scam website "hosting" the APECOIN airdrop (GIF):

Appearance of APECOIN Airdrop scam

The real website (apecoin[.]com):

APECOIN Airdrop Scam (apecoin.com)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a fake cryptocurrency airdrop?

A fake cryptocurrency airdrop is a fraudulent scheme in which scammers impersonate legitimate cryptocurrency projects to deceive users into believing they can receive cryptocurrency for free.

What is the purpose of a fake crypto giveaway?

Typically, scammers use fake airdrops to steal personal information and (or) cryptocurrency from victims. For instance, sites hosting fake airdrops can be designed to activate cryptocurrency drainers that siphon crypto funds from wallets.

Why do I encounter scam websites?

Scammers employ hijacked WordPress sites and stolen social media accounts to lure users into fake websites for cryptocurrency airdrops and other scams. They also utilize deceptive ads, pop-ups, and notifications from shady sites. Furthermore, adware-generated ads, fraudulent emails, and pages on rogue advertising networks lead users to scam sites.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner is designed to scan each website you visit, effectively identifying any malicious ones, including those intended for scams. If such a site is detected, you will receive an immediate warning, and access will be restricted to protect your security.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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