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Don’t Fall for It: Scammers Are Impersonating CoinDesk Staff on Social Media

John Biggs, Nikhilesh De and Marc Hochstein

Scammers have been impersonating CoinDesk reporters and editors in recent months, promising coverage of projects in exchange for a fee.

At least two different victims have paid hundreds of dollars in bitcoin and ether to these crooks and contacted us only after realizing something was wrong.

To be clear: CoinDesk does not and will never accept payment for coverage.

Related: Coinpunk offers DIY Bitcoin wallet

If you are being contacted by someone claiming to be one of our reporters on Telegram or LinkedIn, and they ask for a payment, know that the account reaching out is a fraud. Please report them to the relevant social media platform, and to us, right away, by emailing fraud@coindesk.com. If possible, please include screenshots of what they wrote.

If you need to confirm you are, in fact, communicating with a CoinDesk staffer please email news@coindesk.com.

Why are we writing this?

Scammers prey on unsuspecting developers, CEOs, and project managers all the time. CoinDesk has been implicated in a number of scams and we’d like to explain what is being done and how.

Most of the victims receive a Telegram message like this one:

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The back and forth between the scammer and the news editor is usually friendly and, in some countries where organizations often pay for news coverage, expected. The opportunity is simple: send the scammer $500 or so in bitcoin and get onto CoinDesk’s front page.

There is usually some discussion of price and bona fides and some of these scammers have gotten sophisticated to the point where they are spoofing CoinDesk email addresses to “verify” their identities (check the headers of these emails!). One con artist even forged a CoinDesk editor’s passport to “confirm” their identity. 

One of the victims requested $150 in USDC to be sent to this address: 0x586Cb8bd74D6A6d69EC3AF69914eE478Ddfd4eeE.

CoinDesk is working with our legal counsel and tech team to find ways of thwarting these impostors.

Finally, the scammers are even sending a fake invoice with a jaunty headshot, a fascinating touch.

Every one of these interactions, on the surface, appears real. If the victim had sent a single email to a real staffer, however, the scam would have fallen apart.

Please don’t get caught in one of these stings.

How can you protect yourself? Please verify the handles of the accounts reaching out to you by looking at the headers. Also reach out independently to CoinDesk’s reporters and editors. We list our digital accounts on our individual author pages and on the masthead.

You should also always email the writer or editor directly if you have any concerns.

Don’t pay for coverage

We understand marketing is hard for a startup. In a world full of good ideas, how do you make your voice heard?

Paying for coverage isn’t one of them. In the years we’ve been writing, many “PR people” have approached startups with sure-fire ways to appear on the front pages of multiple big organizations. Some of these people are outright frauds. Some of them will actively reach out to editors on your behalf and tell them you are building something cool and that they should write about you. The chance that you will get a post out of that interaction ranges from zero to a few percents, especially if the PR person has a prior relationship with that reporter.

What is the best way to reach out to any reporter?

Prepare an email that says “Hey, I’m doing something cool. I’m the CEO of [your company], a company in [place]. It is a [what your project does.] Can I show you how it works?”

Include a link and screenshots. Nothing more, nothing less.

Research reporters who might be interested in your topic. Find their emails, Twitter handles, etc.

Reach out exactly three times. If they don’t respond, move on.

That, in short, is the best strategy for reaching out to any reporter, including ones at CoinDesk.

The bottom line?

Never pay for coverage. Never expect coverage in return for tokens or cash. Avoid any news outlet that asks for payment.

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