On March 16th, some cryptoverse denizens awoke to what appeared to be an email from PayPal saying to “cease any activity that results in the trading or transfer of cryptocurrency.” Affected users have called into PayPal to learn that the email is a hoax. The dominant theory for now? Someone is trying to manipulate crypto prices with FUD (“Fear, uncertainty, doubt”).
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A Fake Among Us
A forged email appearing to come from e-payments powerhouse PayPal is making its way through the space. The faux email warns targeted users that PayPal will “be unable to continue offering our services” if the users don’t stop account activities associated with cryptocurrencies.
Reddit’s starting to abound with anecdotes of users receiving the email. One of the firsts was u/HeroicLife, who say they called PayPal’s phone support line and received confirmation the email was fake:
“PayPal confirmed to me over the phone that the email is fake. Paypal is NOT banning accounts with cryptocurrency activity. This is a sophisticated attempt to manipulate the price of Bitcoin.”
Another user, u/CardCollector1, described being similarly targeted:
“I got the same email today. Was really pissed off. But the email was from @paypal.com which is what I first checked. There are no links or anything suspicious, so I suspected it was genuine. Will contact PayPal as well.”
Two things particularly stand out in the fraudulent warning, provided courtesy of u/HeroicLife:
First off, the email is sent from what appears to be email@example.com, a nefarious and subtle play on PayPal’s firstname.lastname@example.org
Secondly, and even more curiously, the hoax email isn’t seemingly part of a direct money-grabbing scam, as it’s not requesting victims to send crypto to a supplied address as has been extremely prevalent on Twitter as of late. Instead, the hoax simply requests the targeted users to stop using PayPal to facilitate cryptoeconomy activities.
A FUD Attack?
With no direct profit venue in the hoax, the most apparent explanation would be that the scammer or scammers responsible are trying to indirectly profit by artificially creating mass sell pressure.
The end goal, then, would be snagging up coins for artificially low prices to maximize gains.
That’s one extraordinarily immoral way to try to make a buck in the cryptocurrency space, to say the least. The takeaway here is that manipulation of all kinds is afoot, and everyone in the ecosystem must remain vigilant and even skeptical.
What’s your take? Does this kind of FUD blitz surprise you? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via u/HeroicLife, WSJ