Today I am going to write about something a little different. I was fairly impressed by the "second UNI airdrop" scam attempt. I think they approached it really intelligently, and if they had limited to posting in a few places, rather than spamming the world, I fear they could have harmed a lot of people.
By now I am sure you have all heard about the real UNI airdrop as announced on the uniswap blog (uniswap.org/blog/uni/). If you haven't, everyone who used uniswap before September was eligible to claim 400 UNI. 400 UNI is currently trading at over US$1000.
As it should be, my initial reaction was that it was too good to be true. Since it was through a site I was already familiar with, was well documented, and the only cost was gas, I claimed it. I found it to be an amazing drop without any real risk. That being said, if the UNI drop is news to you, don't take my word on it, do your own research first!
Note: Since I'm discussing a scam, I am deliberately only including the text for any links in this article. I apologize for the inconvenience, its done as a reminder to perform due diligence before clicking links.
Picture sourced from Pixabay
Some people got really lucky and collected from multiple wallets. Others missed out due to not using uniswap in the past. This meant that the new UNI token was a very hot topic on social media, and made it a prime topic to use as an attempted scam.
The people who didn't receive the airdrop are largely crypto newbies. They may have gotten interested in crypto because of a game or a collectible. They likely had their hand held as they signed up for a web-based wallet. They know next to nothing and feel like the missed out. While investigating researching this airdrop they may stumble over a message like this in one of their forums.
"Uniswap is doing a second UNI airdrop for non metamask users! link: uni-airdrop.io/ (and heres a official tweet: imgur.com/WbBSgpN)"
The announcement is supposedly sourced from twitter. The image itself is nicely edited. If discord had automatically loaded the image you would have missed the obvious warning sign that its an imgur link, not a twitter link. If I was an excited newbie, it might not have occurred to me to check the actual Uniswap twitter site(twitter.com/UniswapProtocol) and I could have blindly clicked.
Going to the site it looks legit at first glance. The page includes a link which launches the real uniswap trade app (app.uniswap.org/#/swap). The page's URL is different, but that might have been done as protection against a Denial of Service Attack. The only obvious red flags are that the top left link doesn't go to the real uniswap home, and that the background color doesn't match the uniswap branding. Those are easy to miss if you are unfamiliar with uniswap though. The site seems safe until it prompts you for a private key.
Every wallet tells you to protect your private key, but this is a scam targeting excited newbies who never even though about crypto before Metamask was created. It cleverly tells them this "was a normal thing before Metamask". It assures the user that the form is fully secure and you can even see as much if you check the site information.
Overall this scam was really presented well. When it was just a single post showing up in my feed it was enough to peak even my jaded curiosity. If they'd made a couple random blog posts and waited for them to be naturally indexed by google and the other search engines, they likely could have scammed a lot of people. Fortunately they outed themselves as a scam by spamming discord.
That is why I'm impressed by this particular scam. It is also why I want to remind everyone to exercise caution when offered free crypto. The only guaranteed freebie is something which shows up in your wallet unprompted, and even that might be controlled by a contract. if you have to do more than tell them your wallet address, you should be on guard.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Be safe!