Scammers target Trump supporters - and bad spellers - after Republican announced he’d take crypto donations

Scammers registered domains with common misspellings to lure in Trump supporters intending to visit donaldjtrump.com

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
Tuesday 18 June 2024 15:42 BST
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Scammers are going after Trump supporters after the former president announced last month that his campaign would take donations in cryptocurrency.

Cybercrime detection firm Netcraft found dozens of websites trying to trick supporters of Donald Trump to hand over their crypto, Wired reported. The firm found just before the announcement was made, scammers registered domains with common misspellings to lure Trump supporters intending to visit donaldjtrump.com.

For instance, donalbjtrump.com was an almost complete copy of the former president’s website.

The Trump campaign takes donations via the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, but a number of the scam sites seem to use exchanges intended to look like the blockchain and crypto payment processor Coingate. Their hope is that people donate to the fake sites, believing they are giving money to the Republicans candidate.

Donald Trump speaks at a Turning Point USA conference on June 15. Now, crypto scammeras are going after his supporters with a new hoax.
Donald Trump speaks at a Turning Point USA conference on June 15. Now, crypto scammeras are going after his supporters with a new hoax. (Getty Images)

The head of research at Netcraft, Rob Duncan, told Wired that “As a victim, the fact that the real campaign is using Coinbase payments rather than direct cryptocurrencies” wouldn’t be clear.

“The way it’s been advertised is ‘Donald Trump’s taking cryptocurrency donations,’ when actually that’s quite it’s a bit more subtle,” Duncan said.

He added none of the crypto scams appear to be fruitful just yet, but he noted that that may be because they’re new and may not yet be active.

More fake sites appeared after Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts for falsifying business records in a corrupt scheme to influence the 2016 election by covering up an affair with adult actor Stormy Daniels.

The campaign raised more than $34m in the hours following his conviction. Scammers appeared to foresee this surge in interest and were ready to take advantage.

“Criminals like to use events like this, to base their scams on topical events, things that people are interested in, where people are more likely to click on links,” Duncan told Wired.

Following the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, Netcraft found donation scams aimed at people on both sides.

“They’re interested in getting cryptocurrency from anybody. And they’re not bothered about which political persuasion they might have,” he said.

Scammers registered domains with common misspellings to lure in Trump supporters intending to visit donaldjtrump.com to donate crypto. Pictured: Trump at a gathering in a Detroit church
Scammers registered domains with common misspellings to lure in Trump supporters intending to visit donaldjtrump.com to donate crypto. Pictured: Trump at a gathering in a Detroit church (AP)

Crypto is unregulated and doesn’t have the restrictions of established financial institutions, making it an attractive option for criminals. The FBI’s Internet Crime Report for last year found that crypto scams cost people nearly $4bn.

There’s no mechanism for reversing payments, once the scammers have the funds, they’re gone, Duncan said.

The Trump campaign’s crypto use goes against what Trump himself said during his presidency.

In July 2019, Trump wrote “I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”

Now, he appears to be all in. In May, Politico reported Trump was courting crypto traders, arguing the Biden administration has made their lives harder and that the traders “better vote” for him as he wouldn’t impose the same level of scrutiny.

Some Democrats have also now been softening their stance on the issue as the crypto industry has begun hoarding cash to attack pro-regulation candidates, as Bloomberg has noted.

The Independent has contacted the Trump campaign for comment.

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