Police in Colombia has issued a warning about a fraudulent bitcoin investment opportunity. The scam targets social media users, convincing them that Colombian President Ivan Duque endorsed a bitcoin-related money making system.
The Spanish-language scam website “announces” the news, claiming that Duque approves the investment system and officially endorses bitcoin. It’s designed to look like a genuine news announcement.
According to the page, Duque not only endorses the scam: he claims the investment deal will relieve the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a photo at the top of the scam page, Duque is handing a package to a guard. The image seems to suggest Duque is handing a package of coronavirus relief money to the guard.
The sales page adds that the investment opportunity signed by Duque is “the largest deal of the century for Colombia”:
“Colombian business magnate, philanthropist, investor, and president of Colombia, has signed the largest deal of the century for Colombia. Taking a big step towards technology, the government of Colombia approved this agreement, and that is what it has been working to change the economy and the monetary system of Colombia while the alert state for the virus lasts.”
The Bitcoin Era platform purportedly allows citizens of Colombia to start generating income via cryptocurrency. Using an “algorithm,” the website will “take money” from the world’s billionaires and distribute it among the rest:
“Based on these trade exchanges, the system operates automatically on its own to produce an 80% profit rate…Bitcoin Era is an algorithm designed to take money from the richest people in the world and redistribute it among the common people of Colombia. This algorithm literally outperforms the stock market with an accuracy of 80%, which means that you will win 8 out of 10 transactions.”
Because the scam has spread across Colombian social media, police were forced to issue a warning on September 2.
The Bitcoin Era Scam Investment Opportunity
Colombia Check quotes a statement from the Cybernetic Police Center describing how the scam works. The post explains a bitcoin investment opportunity related to a platform called Bitcoin Era. The company is preparing to launch the platform, and investors who send money to the company today can “generate incomes via cryptocurrencies” as the platform launches.
The Bitcoin Era sales page contains other apparent signs of a scam, including an interview with Bitcoin Era’s CEO “Diego Garcia,” who explains how the bitcoin investment system works. The interview was copied and pasted from a similar scam from 2019 called Crypto Genius.
Others have noticed that another photo on the page is a shot of YouTuber and voice actor Pete Acceturo. Another image labeled as “Jose Ruiz,” who is a Mexican student named Adan Cortes, who rose to fame after breaking into Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
To be clear, the president of Colombia has not endorsed Bitcoin Era or any other bitcoin investment opportunity.
We’ve seen scams like this across the crypto space. Scams take a famous person, claim that person has endorsed the scam, and promote the page across social media. We saw it earlier this year with British TV presenter and former X-Factor star Rylan Clark-Neal. They appeared to claim he made “millions from bitcoin” with a unique investment opportunity. The star was later forced to tweet a warning about the scam.
Other notable names used in bitcoin scams include Hugh Jackman, Gordon Ramsay, and Martin Lewis, all of which sued Facebook after scammers used their likenesses in a bitcoin hoax and spread the campaign across Facebook.
Bitcoin has become increasingly popular in Colombia over the past few years. Although it’s not as popular as in neighboring Venezuela, Colombia has dozens of crypto ATMs and several popular online crypto exchanges. Colombia has also built a legal framework for crypto businesses, including crypto exchanges seeking to operate legally in the country.