Over the past few years, we’ve seen cybercriminals pay more attention to cryptocurrencies than ever before. This is anything but surprising, especially given the significant appreciation of most currencies in the year 2017. It now seems someone is running a malicious Google Adwords campaign disguised as Kucoin. Given the current appeal this exchange has, it is highly likely a lot of people will fall victim to this scam.
Beware of Fake Kucoin Ads
It is neither the first nor the last time we will see fake Google advertisements for cryptocurrency-related services. Such nefarious ads have affected various exchanges over the past few years, including Bittrex, Poloniex, and a few others. It now seems Kucoin is the go-to target, mainly because it is quickly becoming a popular trading platform among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Its lack of KYC features is considered to be a major benefit, although such features will be implemented at a future point.
As Kucoin gains in popularity over time, it is only normal that the “wrong crowd” will show an interest in what this platform has to offer. Its trading markets generate substantial volume, as most supported currencies can be traded against both Bitcoin and Ethereum. The platform still seems to generate far less volume than some other exchanges, but given its lack of KYC requirements, that volume will likely pick up over time.
It is a bit unclear what people hope to achieve with these fake Google Ads, to be honest. One possible explanation is that they wish to obtain login credentials of specific users, which would give criminals access to their balances. At the same time, Kucoin always advises users to enable two-factor authentication. Those who do so will always remain safe from these phishing sites, as the criminals can’t get past the 2FA verification unless they put in a ton of effort.
By the look of things, the fake Kucoin Google ads will redirect users to Kucoin.net. This website looks very similar to the real Kucoin website, Kucoin.com. This once again highlights the need to bookmark the sites you use rather than rely on search engines to show the proper results. Advertisements on Google often promote phishing sites or other scammy websites, and cryptocurrency exchanges are a prone target right now.
Surprisingly, it appears it is not the first time these fake Kucoin ads have showed up on Google. Similar advertisements were displayed not too long ago, and Google eventually removed them. It is unclear whether the same person is running the ads once again or if someone else has taken over. It has become far too easy to create such fake advertisements and have them approved by Google. Unfortunately, this will remain one of the most pressing problems in the world of cryptocurrency for quite some time to come.
One could argue the Kucoin team should have purchased all top-level domain extensions for their platform to avoid issues like these. It is a more than valid argument, and for some reason, they decided against doing so. Even so, Google should do its research a lot better before allowing people to put up such malicious advertisements. We can only hope that not too many people are affected by this, yet only time will tell whether or not that is the case.