The Top 10 Biggest Crypto Scams in History

The Top 10 Biggest Crypto Scams in History

10 min read

Cryptocurrency burst onto the scene with a promise – a new kind of financial freedom. But let’s be real, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The digital nature of crypto assets makes them both revolutionary and, unfortunately, a magnet for various scams and heists in the crypto industry.

You might be wondering, “Why are crypto scams such a big deal?” Well, it’s simple. The anonymity and digital format of cryptocurrencies make them an attractive target for hackers and scammers. We’re talking about millions lost and countless investors questioning the safety of their crypto assets.

So, why this article? Because we want you to be in the know. We’ll dive into some of the biggest crypto scams and give you the lowdown on how to protect your hard-earned digital currency. A little knowledge can go a long way in keeping your crypto wallet secure.


Types of Crypto Scams

types of crypto scams

Scams are a real concern; they come in all shapes and sizes. From heartstring-tugging romance scams to the more sinister social engineering tactics, it’s a jungle out there. In this section, we’ll break down the most common types of crypto scams.


The Romance Scam

Love is a powerful emotion, isn’t it? But in the crypto space, it can also be a dangerous one. Romance scams often start innocently enough – maybe a message on a dating app or social media. The crypto scammer uses the language of love to build trust. Once they’ve got you hooked, they’ll spin tales of financial woes or “can’t-miss” investment opportunities.

You, thinking you’re helping your new love interest, might send them crypto or even dollars. The end result? Your digital wallet and bank account are lighter, and your heart is broken. These scams can go as far as wiping out life savings or family inheritances. So, if your online sweetheart starts talking about crypto, be cautious.


Pump and Dump Schemes

Say you come across a post on social media hyping up a lesser-known crypto token. The promise? Sky-high returns in a matter of days. This is the classic setup for a pump-and-dump scheme. Cryptocurrency scammers pump up the value of a crypto asset, and once it hits a peak – thanks to investments from people like you – they sell, or “dump,” their shares, causing the value to plummet. You’re left holding a worthless asset while they walk away richer.

Always be wary of “too good to be true” investment tips, especially on social media platforms.


Social Engineering Scams

These are the mind games of the crypto scam world. Scammers use psychological tricks to get you to divulge sensitive information like your crypto wallet address or private keys. They might pose as someone you trust – a government official, tech support, or even a friend. Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll make their move, asking for crypto assets or sensitive account details.

For example, Trust Wallet, owned by Binance, lost $4 million to a social engineering scam orchestrated by a crime syndicate. Always double-check before transferring any funds or revealing personal information.


Phishing Scams

You’ve got mail! But wait, that email from your “bank” might not be what it seems. Phishing scams aim to steal your personal information, and they’ve also found a home in the crypto market. These scams usually involve emails or messages that direct you to a fake website where you’re asked to enter your private keys.

Once the scammers have this, they can access your crypto assets. To protect yourself, be extra cautious with unsolicited communications and double-check website URLs.


Giveaway Scams


Who doesn’t love free stuff? But in the crypto world, “free” can come at a high cost. Giveaway scams often pose as promotions from reputable figures or companies in the crypto industry. They promise to double or even triple the crypto you send them. But remember, once you send that crypto, it’s gone for good.

Legitimate giveaways rarely, if ever, ask you to send crypto upfront.


Some of the Biggest Crypto Scams in History

Mt. Gox

This one’s a classic cautionary tale. Founded in 2010, Mt. Gox was once the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange. Everything seemed hunky-dory until 2014 when it filed for bankruptcy. Why? Well, it turns out that 850,000 Bitcoins (worth about $450 million at the time) had mysteriously vanished. The CEO, Mark Karpeles, was later arrested and charged with embezzlement and data manipulation. The lesson here?

Always keep your assets in a secure non-custodial wallet or trusted custodial wallet like CoinPayments wallet. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.



Bitfinex is another big name that faced a major hiccup. In 2016, hackers managed to exploit a vulnerability in the exchange’s security systems and made off with 120,000 Bitcoins (worth around $72 million). The exchange did manage to pay back its users, but the incident left a lasting scar on its reputation.

So, if you’re trading on an exchange, make sure to enable all the security features like two-factor authentication.



Onecoin is a textbook example of a Ponzi scheme disguised as a cryptocurrency. Founded by Ruja Ignatova in Bulgaria, Onecoin promised massive returns and even claimed to be the “Bitcoin killer.” Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Ignatova disappeared in 2017, and the company was exposed as a scam. Investors lost billions, and many people were arrested.

The takeaway? If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Poly Network

Poly Network made headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2021. This cross-chain bridge was hit by one of the largest crypto heists ever. Hackers exploited a vulnerability and drained a staggering $611 million in various crypto assets. But here’s the twist: the hacker later returned most of the stolen funds. Even so, the incident raised red flags about the security measures in place for cross-chain bridges like Poly Network.

Always double-check the security protocols, folks!


Cream Finance

Cream Finance, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform, also faced a flash loan attack that drained its liquidity pool. In 2021, hackers exploited a loophole and made off with $37.5 million in digital assets and $19 million in August 2021. The platform has since taken steps to improve its security, but the incident serves as a reminder to be cautious when dealing with DeFi platforms.

Always watch for red flags and stay updated on the platform’s security measures.


Ronin Network

Ronin Network, associated with the popular game Axie Infinity, recently fell victim to a massive scam. Hackers gained access to the network’s private keys and siphoned off $625 million in crypto assets. The incident shook the crypto industry and raised questions about the security of blockchain networks linked to gaming platforms.

If you’re into crypto gaming, make sure to secure your account and be wary of where you store your tokens.



FTX was once a rising star in the crypto market, but it faced a dramatic downfall when its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was hit with fraud charges. The U.S. District Judge revoked his bail after allegations of witness harassment. The SEC accused him of running a “massive, years-long fraud,” diverting billions of FTX customer funds for personal use. This scandal has raised serious questions about the integrity of crypto exchanges and the industry as a whole.

In November 2022, cybercriminals made off with a staggering $323 million from’s parent company, based in the Bahamas. Additionally, Alameda Research lost $2 million, and the U.S. arm of FTX saw a $90 million hit.

Despite these setbacks, FTX regained a significant portion of the lost assets: $1.7 billion in cash, $3.5 billion in what they claim to be easily convertible cryptocurrencies, and $300 million in liquid stocks.



Pincoin promised sky-high returns and lured in thousands of new investors. However, it turned out to be one of the most notorious Ponzi schemes in the crypto industry. The company vanished overnight, leaving investors with worthless tokens and a loss of over $660 million. This incident serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of “too good to be true” investment opportunities in the crypto market.



Bitconnect was another Ponzi scheme that promised high returns through a lending program. The platform used new investors’ money to pay off the older ones, creating a cycle that eventually collapsed. The SEC shut it down, and its founders were arrested, but not before causing a loss of approximately $2.6 billion. This case highlights the need for regulatory oversight and due diligence in the crypto industry.


Wormhole Protocol

Wormhole Bridge was a cross-chain bridge service that facilitated the transfer of assets between different blockchains. However, it became the target of a flash loan attack, resulting in a loss of around $320 million. According to an initial investigation by blockchain security firm CertiK, the attacker exploited a mint function on the Solana side of the Wormhole crypto bridge. This allowed them to create 120,000-wrapped Ethereum (wETH) on their own, which they then used to claim ETH stored on the Ethereum side of the bridge.

This incident exposed vulnerabilities in cross-chain protocols and raised concerns about the security measures in place to protect digital assets.


How to Protect Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

bitcoin security

Alright, we’ve talked about the dark side of the crypto world – now, let’s flip the script. How can you keep your digital treasure chest safe and sound? It’s not as daunting as it sounds. With some basic know-how and a dash of vigilance, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling prey to scams. Let’s explore some actionable steps you can take today.


Guard Your Digital Wallet Like a Pro

First things first, your digital wallet is your crypto sanctuary. Never, ever share your private keys with anyone. If someone’s asking for them, red flags should be waving in your mind. Those keys are your personal access to your assets – treat them like the gold they guard.

But hey, if safeguarding your keys feels overwhelming, there’s a solution for that too. Consider using reputable and trusted custodial wallet solutions like CoinPayments Wallet. It’s designed to offer a secure environment for storing your digital assets, giving you peace of mind without the hassle.


Beware of Unsolicited Offers

Cold emails promising the moon? Delete. If an “incredible” investment opportunity lands in your inbox out of nowhere, chances are it’s a scam. Always be skeptical of unsolicited advice or offers, especially if they urge you to act fast.


Do Your Homework

Don’t let high-pressure tactics rush you into making hasty decisions. If you’re being pushed to invest in a “limited-time offer,” take a step back. Do your own research (DYOR), read reviews, and consult trusted sources before parting with your hard-earned crypto.


Be Cautious with Ads

Ads can be deceiving. Scammers often use social media and even Google ads to lure unsuspecting victims. Always double-check the authenticity of websites and offers you come across in ads. Remember, it probably is if it looks too good to be true.


Shield Your Brand

If you’re running a business, brand protection is crucial. Scammers can impersonate your brand to deceive customers, damaging your reputation and bottom line. Consider using brand impersonation removal software to monitor and eliminate any fraudulent activities associated with your brand.

By following these guidelines, you’re already ahead of the game in safeguarding your crypto assets. Stay smart, stay vigilant, and happy investing!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is The Largest Crypto Theft?

The infamous Mt. Gox heist takes the cake. Between 2011 and 2014, a staggering 850,000 Bitcoin vanished from the exchange, making it the biggest crypto theft in history.


Which Hacker Group Stole the Most Money?

North Korean hackers have set a new record, pilfering a jaw-dropping $1.7 billion in crypto in 2022 alone, according to a Chainalysis report.


How Can I Protect My Digital Wallet?

Your private keys are your first line of defense. Never share them with anyone, and store them securely. Use two-factor authentication for added security.


What Are Some Common Types of Crypto Scams?

The most prevalent scams include phishing attacks, pump-and-dump schemes, and social engineering scams. Always be vigilant and do your research before engaging in any crypto transactions.


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