Our P2P marketplace aims to provide a safe trading environment for everyone and ensure the fulfilment of the trade terms by the counterparts to the trade. However, this doesn’t guarantee the absence of fraudsters striving to swindle gullible or careless users out of their money whenever the opportunity arises.
P2P marketplace Bitpapa has been in business since 2018, and during this time the service has built a solid experience in fighting off all sorts of fraudsters – the experience which can be useful not only to Bitpapa users but also to curious cryptocurrency enthusiasts in general. Really, knowledge in today’s world is our most effective weapon against con artists.
Major schemes used by fraudsters on P2P marketplaces
Let’s first get ourselves acquainted with the list of the most widespread shenanigans used by unscrupulous users on peer-to-peer marketplaces, and then break down each of them to see how they work under the hood, who can fall prey to them and what we can do about them.
So, here’s the inventory of possible deceits that you may never want to encounter in real life, but which you will be better off to get familiar with:
- Fake payment receipts
- Look-alike amounts
- Payments in different currency
- Incidental release
- Gullible seller
- Buying instead of selling
- Fake notifications from bank or payment system
- Fake Bitpapa support staff in Telegram
- Fake Bitpapa bot in Telegram
- Same amounts
- Payment transfer with protection code
- Cancelling unconfirmed transaction
- "Profitable" trade off the marketplace
This is the most widespread and dangerous type of fraud. The fraudster publishes an advertisement to sell some popular merchandise on a well-known marketplace with ads. The victim buyer is lured into the trade by an attractive price offering. The fraudster tries in all possible ways to convince the victim either to pay all the amount at once or to make a partial payment in advance.
When the victim agrees, the fraudster opens another trade to buy cryptocurrency from a seller on a P2P marketplace, then receives payment details from this seller and sends them to the victim. In the end, the victim pays for the cryptocurrency while its seller releases the escrowed coins. The coins are to be immediately withdrawn by the unscrupulous user off the marketplace.
The victim then wastes time trying to contact the fraudster, and after that, calls his bank in an effort to return his money. Now the honest cryptocurrency seller is in trouble as his payment details have been used in the scheme.
There are some varieties to this scheme, but it is based on the purchase of cryptocurrency paid for by the third party – the victim.
How to avoid getting involved in this scheme?
As a cryptocurrency seller, you should always remember about it and routinely assume that the buyer can be a regular swindler. Therefore, when hashing out the trade specifics in the trade chat, you should check whether the other party is actually the buyer and whether the cryptocurrency will be paid for from his account.
To that end, it is required that you ask for any information that can shed light on the real intentions of the buyer. The simplest and the easiest way to do that is to ask to add a note on the money transfer, such as “trade on Bitpapa” or “cryptocurrency purchase”. In this way, the potential victim will likely get suspicious and turn down the transfer.
Another great way which we recommend to use with all new counterparts is to ask a photo showing a part of a payment card taken against the computer screen or mobile phone with an open trade on Bitpapa. There's no way the potential victim can do that.
Additional factors that can help reveal a fraudster are a new account without feedback from other users or an account with too few trades, a long time between opening a trade and making a payment, more than one try to make a payment (opening one trade and receiving payment details, then cancelling the trade followed by opening a new trade with payment made according to the payment details received in the first trade).
When in doubt about the honest intentions of the counterpart, we recommend immediately contacting Bitpapa’s support.
Our marketplace allows you to save notes about counterparts. We advise saving in these notes the names and payment details of the buyers – you can then check the names and payment details in all subsequent trades with the same buyer against the ones saved in your notes.
2. Fake payment receipts
With the universal access to high-end image editors along with the growing skills of using them followed by the development of specialized software and Telegram bots, swindlers looking for free coins can easily forge a payment receipt and hand it over in the trade chat.
These fraudsters can simply take a real receipt and change the name of the seller and amount transferred along with the date and time of the transfer. The main rule which saves from such “editors” is to check for the actual receipt of the transferred funds in your account. Only when you see the receipt of all funds according to your payment details can you close the trade by releasing the cryptocurrency. In a nutshell, screenshots of payment receipts cannot be used as a basis for releasing cryptocurrency from escrow.
3. Look-alike amounts
This deceit is based on the carelessness of the seller. The fraudster opens a trade totalling, for example, 1000 rubles, and then asks for payment details. Instead of paying in full, however, he transfers only 10 rubles and 00 kopecks. Payment notification may show the payment as 10.00, depending on the bank. When in hurry, the seller may miss the difference and release the cryptocurrency from escrow.
The most reliable way to avoid this trap is to always thoroughly check the payment amount as well as the account balance.
4. Payments in different currency
By different currencies here we mean any currency whose exchange rate is lower than the currency of the trade. Many of them, for example, Kazakhstani tenge (KZT), are accepted by payment systems in Russia. Con artists are hoping for a moment's inattention of the cryptocurrency seller when he checks the payment.
In a hurry, which can be expertly produced by the fraudster, the seller may not be able to see the currency actually transferred to his account in the payment system. And while arithmetically the amount may match the expected figure, the exchange rate will make the seller cry.
So it's always best to thoroughly verify not just the amount paid but also the currency of the payment.
5. Incidental release
The fraudster wants to obtain cryptocurrency and opens a trade with you. Then he tries to steal your attention by raising an interesting topic, for example, how to earn free Bitcoin on Bitpapa. You get carried away with the conversation and blissfully forget what all this is about.
But keep in mind that you may be dealing with a con artist who wants to get your coins without payback and who also hopes that you may incidentally release cryptocurrency from escrow. To avoid this scenario, focus only on the trade alone.
If your counterpart keeps steering the dialogue towards anything but the matter at hand, it's worth exploring whether he really wants to buy cryptocurrency from you. Bring him back to the matter and find out what his real goal is – maybe, he is not a genuine buyer but a con man going after your precious coins.
6. Gullible seller
One way or another, the buyer persuades you to go first and send him cryptocurrency without paying.
To ingratiate himself, the fraudster may strike a few successful trades with you and thereby build a very positive image of himself. But you should always remember the sequence of actions in a trade. The buyer opens a trade while the seller submits his payment details. Only after the seller receives the payment, he releases the cryptocurrency from escrow, and not in any other order. Any attempts of asking to release coins first must be nipped in the bud. If the buyer ignores your warnings, contact Bitpapa’s support immediately.
7. Buying instead of selling
The buyer opens a trade to buy cryptocurrency from you, but submits his payment details in the trade chat as if he were actually selling cryptocurrency to you (and you buying).
If you make many trades at the same time, it is quite possible that most of your actions will be performed on autopilot. To avoid getting caught off guard, make all your trades in a meaningful way – pay particular attention to the type of trade you are conducting (selling or buying). Best option, make a series of trades to sell, then a series of trades to buy, without ever mixing them up.
8. Fake notifications from bank or payment system
The majority of banks offer their clients SMS notification service when an SMS is sent upon the receipt of funds in the client account. SMS frauds can take various forms and they may be difficult to recognize. In our case, we are talking about fake SMS that inform the cryptocurrency seller about the receipt of funds to convince him to close the trade and unlock cryptocurrency from escrow.
Why do users give into this stunt? The critical moment here is to obtain the phone number of the cryptocurrency seller. Indeed, if the buyer pays for the cryptocurrency directly to the seller’s mobile phone number, this number is legitimately made known to him. However, in this case, the potential victim will be on guard anyway, and the chances of successful deceit will be minimal.
It is not uncommon for traders to publish a few ads to sell cryptocurrency using different payment systems. If the seller is using a payment system where he has to disclose his phone number, the fraudster can find out this phone number beforehand by making such a trade with the seller from one of his alternative accounts. After waiting for a while, the fraudster can then try to pull the trick off.
To avoid confusing a fake SMS for a legitimate one, it is enough to know the number that the bank uses for sending notifications when the funds arrive. If these numbers don’t match while the money didn't come, someone is evidently trying to take advantage of you. In this case, do not hesitate to contact Bitpapa’s support. Besides, bank staff themselves may want to screw you eventually, and that’s why you shouldn’t trust any SMS in the first place and as a matter of principle. Always checking actual receipt of funds in your account is the way to go.
9. Fake Bitpapa support staff in Telegram
Someone going as Bitpapa support staff sends you a personal message in Telegram and offers you a tempting financial proposal or demands that you do something. For example, he may ask you to enter a lucrative trade or receive a bonus. The Bitpapa support will never write to you first! Such messages must be blocked straight away.
Another variety of this trick is when your counterpart pretends to be Bitpapa’s management in the trade chat. It may look as if someone from the support team or a moderator is communicating with you there. But this is all fraud. Only the seller and the buyer can communicate in the trade chat. The management can’t write in the trade chats. Some tricksters take it to the next level by sending a photo with a text asking to release cryptocurrency on behalf of Bitpapa’s team. As you may have already guessed, this is no more than another attempt at fooling you.
These messages must be immediately reported to Bitpapa’s support. And in no case release escrowed cryptocurrency!
10. Fake Bitpapa bot in Telegram
This scheme migrated from phishing sites that look very much like authentic ones but are in fact used by fraudsters to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, email passwords, personal accounts and now cryptocurrency wallets (as well as their contents).
A fake Bitpapa Telegram bot mimics the real one, but only until you are about to receive funds to your card or coins into your wallet. To be safe, use only the bot the link to which is published on the official site Bitpapa.com.
11. Same amounts
Only experienced traders can flawlessly and competently follow a few open trades at once. For the rest of the trading folk it can cause problems.
When you are trying to conduct several trades at the same time, there's a high likelihood that you will release cryptocurrency for a trade different from the one for which you have actually received the payment. In this case, the fraudster has the right to demand that you comply with the terms of the trade for which he made that payment.
A surefire way to avoid falling victim to this fraud is to steer clear of making a few trades at the same time or to take extreme care when unlocking cryptocurrency – make sure that you release the right cryptocurrency by asking the buyer to provide a screenshot of the payment order.
Chargeback was conceived as a tool for protecting buyers from unscrupulous merchants. However, this option is now actively exploited by all varieties of fraudsters out there, too. They can ask their bank or a payment system such as PayPal to return the funds in the account of the cryptocurrency seller, for example, due to an erroneous transfer.
Also, the fraudsters can try to take advantage of the seller’s doubt in the legal purity of the trade, and convince him to return the funds by threatening to apply to the bank or law enforcement authorities.
In such cases, you should clearly understand that the trade to sell cryptocurrency is totally legal and no threats can be deemed as a warrant to return funds.
13. Payment transfer with protection code
If you have never used YooMoney before or have no idea how this service employs security codes for error protection when sending money, you can easily fall for this type of fraud.
When making a money transfer from one account to another, the sender can set a security code without which the funds won’t be credited to the receiver’s account but will be returned after the specified timeout. As said above, this is to protect from making erroneous transfers, but if the fraudster makes a transfer with this code enabled and you then release cryptocurrency, you will lose both the payment and the cryptocurrency.
It’s relatively easy to avoid this trap. First, you should always remember that internal transfers within YooMoney can be protected by a security code, and, second, make sure that the buyer of your coins didn’t enable it. Only after checking that, you can close the trade and release cryptocurrency from escrow.
14. Cancelling unconfirmed transaction
The fraudster asks you in the trade chat or any messenger to make a profitable trade off the marketplace, and he is willing to send BTC to your address first (before you pay him). You give him an address and see an incoming transaction to your wallet address. After that, the fraudster sends you his payment details and you make the payment. The incoming transaction has a network fee of 1 sat/b, and it is unlikely it will be confirmed any time soon. Then the fraudster cancels the transaction and disappears like a bird in the sky – together with your payment.
15. "Profitable" trade off the marketplace
You open a trade to sell cryptocurrency, and the buyer asks you to continue the communication in some messenger (under whatever excuse – problems with the chat on the marketplace, sharing contacts for further communication, and so on). In the messenger, the buyer asks you to make a profitable trade off the marketplace as he won’t be paying fees for the trade and this will save time as well. He asks for your payment details, gives his address, you make the transfer and the buyer is gone.
This fraud is widespread on all peer-to-peer marketplaces and, unfortunately, it is used by a lot of traders with an impressive number of positive reviews/high trading volume. By focusing your attention on their sterling reputation on the marketplace, they calm you down and induce you toward making payment first. We strongly recommend to discuss all the retails in the chat of the opened trade and in no case transfer cryptocurrency off the marketplace.
Bitpapa can guarantee the throughout security of trades made only on the marketplace. If you are asked to make a trade off the marketplace, immediately contact Bitpapa’s support and report this situation.
Instead of closing
Cryptocurrencies remain a relatively new occurrence. While most users don’t fully understand the intricate aspects of the trade execution, fraudsters of all sorts are rushing to exploit this lack of understanding for their own benefit.
Bitpapa serves as a guarantee for the trade, but we can’t anticipate every possible pattern of behavior that the users are capable of. That’s the reason why it is vital to clearly see through all the fraudulent schemes described above. As a rule of thumb, in any situation when you get in doubt about the honesty of the counterpart, contact Bitpapa’s support staff right away. It is better to spend a few minutes for a trade than to lose your own money.
Remember that the only basis for unlocking coins is the receipt of payment in your account whose details are handed over in the trade chat.
We wish you successful and profitable trades with reliable counterparts!