List Of Fake Crypto Exchanges: Keep Your Digital Assets Safe

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Last updated Jun 14, 2024 | 03:51 PM UTC

Fake crypto exchanges are a popular way for scammers to steal large amounts of funds from new users. With new exchanges entering the market frequently, it has become easy for scammers to disguise malicious sites as legitimate platforms for crypto trading – only to trick the users into giving away their funds. 

According to Chainalysis, over $100billion has been stolen from the crypto market through various scams and hacks in the last five years. Although the market has matured significantly in recent years and mainstream crypto adoption has increased, scams have been a persistent hurdle in making digital assets a secure investment space for users. 

So, how can users spot a fake crypto exchange? And what are the list of fake crypto exchanges? Let’s find out. 

How a fake crypto exchange works

A fake crypto exchange typically operates by disguising itself as a legitimate platform to deceive users into depositing their funds. The process often starts with scammers creating a professional-looking website that mimics reputable exchanges. They might even use the same template as major platforms like Binance or Jupiter. 

After launching the site, scammers use various tactics to lure victims, such as advertising high returns, leveraging fake endorsements from celebrities, and using social engineering techniques. These sites often heavily use social media marketing, trying to create hype and position themselves as an exciting new project. 

Once users are attracted to the site, they are encouraged to create an account and deposit funds, just like a normal crypto trading platform. The exchange may initially appear to operate normally, allowing users to trade and even display fake profits in their accounts. This illusion of legitimacy helps them build trust and encourages users to invest more.

However, problems arise when users attempt to withdraw their funds. The fake exchange might impose unexpected fees, request additional deposits for verification, or simply deny withdrawals outright. In many cases, these exchanges eventually shut down, taking all deposited funds with them. For example, BitKRX, an infamous fake exchange, impersonated a legitimate South Korean trading platform, convincing many to invest before disappearing with their funds​.

List of fake crypto exchanges

Here are some details of 10 popular scam cryptocurrency exchanges in recent years:

  • BitKRX: This exchange posed as a branch of South Korea's legitimate trading platform, KRX, but was a scam intended to defraud investors.
  • Komid: Also from South Korea, this exchange lured customers with false information about token listings and eventually defrauded them.
  • Coins Fast Trades (coinsfasttrades.com): A Californian was introduced to Coins Fast Trades by a friend who promised high profits from a small investment. After depositing $1,200 and seemingly earning a quick profit, attempts to withdraw funds led to demands for various fees, resulting in the victim losing $8,240 without receiving any returns.
  • Coin Bit (coinbitjszc.top): Victims reported losing substantial amounts of money after being lured by promises of high returns. Accounts were frozen due to “suspicious activity,” requiring significant "risk deposits" to unlock. One victim believed they earned $1.3 million but could not withdraw any funds after numerous fees were demanded.
  • Phemex.icu (Impersonating Phemex): A supposed mutual friend introduced victims to this fake platform. After depositing $52,000, they were unable to withdraw funds without paying exorbitant taxes. The scam involved impersonating the legitimate Phemex platform, and the websites used are now non-operational.
  • m.luckyzoom.top: An individual named NanLi persuaded victims to use this fraudulent exchange. After being instructed to transfer funds via wire transfer and convert money into crypto, victims believed their accounts were growing but were ultimately unable to recover any funds.
  • Coinbit: Reportedly, 99% of its transaction volume was faked, and it was eventually seized by authorities.
  • Cryptory: Known for mimicking reputable exchanges through "typosquatting," which involves creating URLs with slight differences from legitimate exchanges to trick users.
  • BEX-EX (bex-ex.xx): A victim transferred $7,500 to what they believed was a legitimate exchange. However, they were unable to withdraw any funds and realized the platform was a scam designed to defraud users.
  • Coin Tiger Global (cointiger.com): Victims reported being unable to withdraw funds despite their accounts showing significant balances. The exchange demanded numerous payments for fees and taxes, totaling thousands of dollars, yet still did not release any funds.
  • AJ Coins (ajcoins.com): Victims encountered this platform through WhatsApp group chats where they were encouraged to invest large sums. Despite showing substantial profits in the app, they were unable to withdraw any funds. Attempts to contact support were unsuccessful.
  • One Way Digital FX Trade Company (onewaydigitalc.com): A victim was convinced by “David” on Facebook to invest in this platform. After depositing funds, they were unable to withdraw their profits without paying an $850 fee. Despite requesting a refund, the victim did not recover any funds.
  • Daily Harvest LTD (dailyharvestltd.com): Victims were introduced to this platform by “Ava,” who claimed it was a certified trading platform. After transferring over $50,000, they were unable to withdraw any funds despite following all instructions. The website is no longer operational.
  • Haru Invest (haruinvest.com): The platform terminated deposits and withdrawals, and its executives were arrested for embezzlement. Users lost access to their funds, revealing the platform as a scam.

The BitKRX scam: A detailed overview

BitKRX was one of the most notorious fake cryptocurrency exchanges. It disguised as a legitimate entity associated with the Korea Exchange (KRX), the largest financial trading platform in South Korea. By adopting the name BitKRX, the scammers created an illusion of legitimacy, which led many investors to believe it was a safe and regulated exchange.

How the scam operated:

  • False representation: BitKRX claimed to be a branch of KRX and purportedly a creation of KOSDAQ, which added to its perceived legitimacy.
  • Attraction of investors: Investors were lured by the trust in the KRX name, leading them to deposit significant amounts of money into the platform, believing it was a safe investment.
  • Disappearance of funds: Over time, users began to report that their funds had mysteriously disappeared from their accounts. Despite initially showing profits, attempts to withdraw these funds were met with obstacles, and eventually, the money was inaccessible.

The exact amount of money lost in the BitKRX scam is difficult to ascertain, with some sources believing it is close to $2 billion. By the time the scam was exposed in 2017, it had already caused considerable financial damage to numerous individuals.

Exposure and aftermath

Authorities in South Korea eventually shut down BitKRX after receiving multiple complaints from victims. This case highlighted the vulnerabilities in the cryptocurrency market and the ease with which scammers could exploit the trust associated with established names.

The BitKRX case serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of thorough due diligence when investing in cryptocurrency exchanges. It underscores the need for investors to verify the legitimacy of any platform, regardless of how trustworthy it appears, by checking for regulatory compliance and independent reviews.

How to spot a fake crypto exchange

1. Verify the exchange's legitimacy:

  • Check for regulation: Ensure the exchange is regulated by reputable financial authorities. Unregulated exchanges are riskier.
  • Look for reviews and feedback: Research user reviews and feedback on forums like Reddit or Trustpilot. Consistent negative reviews are a red flag. You can also find a regularly updated list of fake crypto exchanges on Reddit. 
  • Official channels: Confirm the exchange’s legitimacy by checking if it is mentioned positively in established crypto news outlets.

2. Examine the website and security:

  • Domain name: Be wary of domain names that closely mimic legitimate exchanges (known as typosquatting). Double-check the URL.
  • SSL certificate: Ensure the site uses HTTPS. Lack of a secure connection is a red flag.
  • Website design and functionality: A poorly designed website with grammatical errors and broken links can indicate a scam.

3. Analyze the offerings:

  • Unrealistic returns: Be skeptical of exchanges promising high or guaranteed returns, as no legitimate investment can guarantee profits.
  • Pressure tactics: Avoid platforms that pressure you to invest quickly or deposit large sums.

4. Check contact information and support:

  • Customer support: Legitimate exchanges provide transparent and accessible customer support. Test the support by asking questions.
  • Contact information: Ensure there is clear and verifiable contact information. Scammers often provide fake or no contact details.

5. Payment and withdrawal policies:

  • Deposit and withdrawal fees: Be cautious of hidden fees or exorbitant charges for withdrawals.
  • Withdrawal problems: Research if users have faced issues withdrawing funds. Consistent withdrawal problems are a major warning sign.

6. Verify the team behind the exchange:

  • Team information: Legitimate exchanges list their team members and provide their professional backgrounds. Verify these details on professional networks like LinkedIn.

7. Red flags and examples:

  • Fake endorsements: Scammers often use fake endorsements from celebrities or well-known figures.
  • Complex withdrawal processes: Exchanges that create complex withdrawal processes or ask for additional fees after deposits are suspicious.
  • Unsolicited offers: Be cautious of unsolicited offers from social media or email, especially those promising high returns or exclusive opportunities.

Final thoughts 

Crypto trading can be complex for new users and scammers leverage this complexity. By staying informed and conducting thorough due diligence, you can protect yourself from falling victim to fake crypto exchanges. 

Always check the thorough reviews of any platform, its teams, and endorsements before investing your money. It’s also advisable to lean towards popular platforms that have been established in the industry for years. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common warning signs of a fake crypto exchange?

Common warning signs include unrealistic promises of high returns, poorly designed websites with grammatical errors, lack of regulation, hidden fees, and difficulties in withdrawing funds. Be cautious of unsolicited offers and exchanges that pressure you to invest quickly​.

How can I verify the legitimacy of a crypto exchange?

Verify the exchange by checking its regulatory status with financial authorities, reading user reviews on forums like Reddit or Trustpilot, confirming the presence of an SSL certificate on the website, and ensuring clear contact information and responsive customer support are provided​.

How to recover funds from a scam crypto exchange?

Recovering funds from a scam crypto exchange is challenging. Report the scam to local authorities and financial regulators. Contact your bank or payment provider to see if any transactions can be reversed. Use platforms like Chainalysis or CipherTrace to track your funds if they were transferred to known scam addresses​.

Written by

Mohammad is an experienced crypto writer with a specialisation in cybersecurity. He covers a wide variety of topics spanning everything from blockchain and Web3 to the retail crypto space. He has also worked for several start-ups and ICOs, gaining insight into the mindset and motivation of the founders behind the projects.