Inside money, markets, and big tech

PSA: Stay away from this ‘Bitcoin Collector’ app – it’s malware

You don't wanna be part of the Bitcoin Collector club

cryptocurrency, bitcoin, blockchain, scam, virus, malware

Have you come across a new “Bitcoin BTC Collector” program promising up to $45 worth of free cryptocurrency each day? It might sound enticing, but best to stay away: the app is a virus designed to infect your system with ransomware or password-stealing malware.

The scam, which is currently spreading through a series of sketchy websites, essentially offers victims a chance to earn 3 Ethereum (about $800 at the time of writing) in exchange for referring 1,000 visits through a referral link. The same websites also contain ads to software which generates “BTC for FREE” with the “Bitcoin Collector” app.

The scheme was first discovered by a security researcher going by the nickname Frost, and later reported by BleepingComputer.

Credit: BleepingComputer
Screenshots of the scam site

The ads then lead to another website promoting the Bitcoin Collector app. Interestingly, BleepingComputer notes the scammers even included a link to virus monitoring platform, VirusTotal, to trick visitors into believing the software is safe to use.

Once installed though, the app goes on to infect your system with either ransomware or a password-stealing Trojan.

The ransomware version of the scam encrypts victims’ files, and sends them a ransom note with instructions on how they can get back their data (spoiler: it’s by paying up to the blackmailers).

The Trojan, on the other hand, gives hackers access to your login credentials for various sites, browsing history, and even cryptocurrency wallets; it also makes it possible to take screenshots from your system and steal your files.

Credit: BleepingComputer
Screenshot of ransom note

BleepingComputer advises anyone who might’ve fallen for the scam to change their passwords.

Not the first time we’ve seen similar scams

Cryptocurrency malware is nothing new by now. And indeed, this isn’t even the first time we’ve noticed instances of the Bitcoin Collector scam.

Curiously, the Bitcoin Collector program was also spotted by security researcher Misterch0c back in April. At the time, it was advertised on websites with identical design to the ones above – it also featured links to the same Bitcoin Collector program.

Speaking to Hard Fork in April, Misterch0c noted over 890 machines had been infected by it, according to logs. Chances are the number is even higher now.

Stay safe, peeps: offers for free cryptocurrency aren’t always what they claim to be.

Published May 27, 2019 — 10:30 UTC