- Suspicious domain registrations relating to dogecoin jumped 744% from January to May.
- Cybersecurity firm BrandShield analyzed eight other cryptocurrencies as well as five trading platforms.
- The findings come as cryptocurrencies exploded in popularity in 2021.
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Sites pushing suspected dogecoin scams have skyrocketed in 2021, rising in lockstep with the meme token’s nearly 4,000% rally since the beginning of the year.
Domain registrations relating to dogecoin – or some semblance of the cryptocurrency’s name – jumped 744% from January to May, according to data from cybersecurity firm BrandShield.
In January 2021, only 143 domains were tagged as suspicious registrations compared to the 1,207 in May. Just 25 registrations were identified in December 2020, a year before the joke crypto token began its astounding surge.
Domain registration is the process in which a person or a company “reserves” a name on the internet for a specific timeframe.
The suspicious domains that contain the word “dogecoin” tracked by the company are usually used for phishing scams or other kinds of fraudulent online activity, Yoav Keren, BrandShield co-founder and CEO told Insider.
While bitcoin has more suspicious domain registrations at 1,764 as of May 2021, registrations for the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization actually slipped by 60% from the 4,308 in January.
Ether also saw a similar downward trend, with 286 suspicious domain registrations in May 2021, an 11% decline from the 323 in January.
Keren said the rise in dogecoin fraud can in part be attributed to prominent figures constantly stirring up social media chatter over the meme token. He singled out Elon Musk.
Apart from the three cryptocurrencies, the Israeli cybersecurity startup looked into six other coins – polkadot, ripple, litecoin, cardano, tether, and stellar – although found that these did not get as much traction as the more famous tokens.
“The problem with the crypto industry, in general, is how it’s an anonymous industry,” Keren told Insider. “So if you’re defrauded, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t know who’s behind that wallet, you can’t go back to your credit card company.”
BrandShield also analyzed five cryptocurrency trading platforms – Coinbase, Binance, Bisq, Bitfinex, and CoinMarketCap – and found that these were also popular targets for cybercriminals, who register fraudulent versions of these domains to trick crypto investors.
Coinbase saw the largest number of suspicious domain registrations, according to BrandShield.
In May 2021, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US saw suspicious domain registration rise 323% to 585 from just 138 in January.
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, came in a close second. Suspicious domain registrations rose 123% to 308 over the same period from 138 at the start of the year.
Once the phishing or scam sites are identified, Keren said his firm uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to continue analyzing them, before having his team report these to the relevant service providers.
“As cryptocurrency receives more mainstream coverage, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that cybercriminals are following the money and targeting retail investors,” Keren said.