Coinbase notification scam steals US$11 million in bitcoin from a crypto account in 10 minutes
Even the most popular and secure cryptocurrency trading platforms like Coinbase aren't insured against flaws in their subscriber base, as one account holder learned the hard way recently. Denoted with the initials G.R. in the respective court documents, the Coinbase user had just bought 200 bitcoin back in April when they received a notification that their account was now locked.
Unfortunately, the account holder is now making crypto news since the notification wasn't from Coinbase, but they fell for it and called the phone number given thinking they were talking to a Coinbase customer rep. The scammer asked G.R. to carry out a series of tasks on his account, including allowing remote access as if to fix the problem. Instead of flashing a red light in the Coinbase account holder's mind, the requests of the "unidentified individual 1" (or "UI-1" as the lawsuit documents call it) got them full access to the wallet funds, informs Dan G. Boyle, an assistant US attorney:
Once granted access to the Victim Account, UI-1 increased the daily transaction limit and also attempted to deactivate certain notifications and alert settings on the Victim Account. The total value of virtual currency transferred out of the Victim Account between 2:02:40 PST and 2:12:41 PST on or about April 20, 2021, without G.R.'s authorization was approximately $11,570,138.
The scammer then began to move the crypto funds between accounts until 10.2 bitcoin finally ended at one of the big cryptocurrency exchanges, Huobi Global. The investigators contacted Huobi after a judge granted forfeiture warrant for the funds in October, and the exchange agreed to freeze the account while the case is ongoing.
Needless to say, those 10 bitcoin are just a consolation for G.R., as there are still millions of dollars more to be recovered, but the notification scam story should serve as a warning to any Coinbase or other cryptocurrency exchange account holder out there.