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All About Exit Scams That Have Become Increasingly Common in the Crypto Ecosystem

These scams, which involve project creators vanishing suddenly after obtaining large sums of money, undermine the credibility of the digital currency industry.
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Kanchanara
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Kanchanara

From the sudden surge in Bitcoin rates to the promise of a digital asset free from regulations, built to be traded without restrictions online, several factors contributed to the popularity of cryptocurrencies. But the crypto ecosystem has also been marred by uncertainty as well as the scammers who have descended to exploit the blockchain boom. Among many fraudulent schemes deployed using cryptocurrencies as a facade, exit scams have become increasingly common. They capitalize on the industry's ingenuity for malicious purposes, as per Cointelegraph, and such scams involve project creators vanishing suddenly after obtaining large sums of money.

Pexels | Photo by Anna Tarazevich
Image Source: Crypto scams | Pexels | Photo by Anna Tarazevich

Exit scams have emerged as a pervasive threat within the cryptocurrency world, exploiting the industry's innovative spirit for nefarious purposes. Leveraging the anonymity of blockchain technology, scammers entice unsuspecting investors with promises of extraordinary profits and groundbreaking technologies. Once they've amassed significant funds, these fraudsters vanish, leaving behind shattered trust and financial ruin.

Exit scams unfold in multiple stages designed to cultivate trust and lure investors after scammers create an illusion of legitimacy through slick websites, extensive marketing campaigns, and enticing glimpses of purportedly revolutionary technologies.

As interest grows, they solicit funds through various means such as initial coin offerings (ICOs), offering early supporters lucrative returns. A notorious example is the case of Confido, a blockchain startup that vanished after raising $375,000 in an ICO, leaving investors empty-handed.

Bitcoin and US dollar Bill | Pexels | Photo by David McBee
Image Source: Bitcoin and US dollar Bill | Pexels | Photo by David McBee

Exit scams manipulate basic cognitive biases and emotional triggers to deceive investors. They exploit the bandwagon effect to create the illusion of widespread support, prey on investors' fear of missing out, and fabricate endorsements from prominent figures to lend credibility to their schemes.

These tactics play on the investor's desire for profit and the focus on loss aversion, and lead to impulsive and ill-advised investment decisions.

Unsplash | Photo by Sajad Nori
Image Source: Crypto | Unsplash | Photo by Sajad Nori

In May 2023, a surge of scams and hacking incidents led to over $54 million in losses in the crypto space, which stands in stark contrast to April's $101.5 million losses. This suggests that the enhancements in security measures by users and developers can effectively curb scams.

Nearly half of April's $101.5 million loss indicates an improvement in security practices among users and developers. However, no funds were reclaimed in May 2023, in contrast to the $2.2 million recovered in April. The BNB Chain ecosystem suffered the most with losses surpassing $37 million across ten cases, while Ethereum-based projects experienced the least exploits, totaling just over $2 million.

Among the top ten cases, Fintoch suffered the highest loss of $31.7 million due to a smart contract exploit. Jimbo Protocol on Arbitrum experienced a loss of $7.5 million due to a rug pull, while Deus Finance on BNB lost $6.2 million in a similar incident. Other cases included Tornado Cash, Mother, WSB Coin, Linda Yaccarino, Block Forest, SNOOKER, and land, with losses ranging from $145,000 to $733,000.

Decentralized exchanges (DEX) incurred losses of $4 million in three cases while Stablecoins recorded the highest single loss of $6.2 million.