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Minds Users Beware of Scams!! (Updated)

Moonlit MonkeyNov 23, 2018, 6:57:19 AM
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So a few days ago I was scammed twice by a user on here by the name of erindrops. There’s a peculiar way this scam works, so that took me a while to work out. And whilst I reported this illegal activity as soon as I knew to minds staff, I also needed time to gather some evidence. Bear with me as I explain the backstory, it'll give you insight into how scams on a site like this can work.

So I'll start back at the beginning.

This particular user offers off-chain tokens in exchange for ETH. At a rate much better than the one offered by minds. So thinking, I’d found myself a bargain I sent him 0.15 ETH to the following address, as shown by both my receipt and this archive of his/her website:


My first transfer of ETH to @erindrops, as per their website, 0.15 ETH for 500 tokens


One of @erindrops many changing ETH wallet addresses, as you can see, the same as the one I transferred to the first time around


When I approached him/her about the tokens he/she then claimed I’d sent to the wrong wallet address. Checking his website, I found a different wallet address and simply assumed as they asserted I’d made a mistake. As you can see above, that was a lie (the website changed later on, back to the original address I'd sent ETH to as you can see above)

Still, naive on minds and crypto, and not getting the scam yet, I then made a further deal with him/her for 0.06 ETH, transferred new funds to the new wallet address, thinking I’d then get my tokens. But he/she then deleted the message exchange, blocked me, and I never saw anything. Here’s my receipt from that:


Unfortunately, I never got an archive of the site when it has the above wallet address. Trade for promised via messenger, 185 tokens for .06 ETH

Investigating the website after I'd reported it to the minds staff, I saw the wallet address change. I only picked it up because I’d read the last wallet address so closely, and remembered the last few digits/letters with clarity.

So then I started archiving his site. There have been at least FOUR different wallet addresses since is started archiving, as shown below, and in the following link (For brevity I'll only show the ones other than the above one already shown):


Another one.



And another one



And another one. Notice it still hasn't been cycled back around to the second address I sent to. So who knows how many wallets are involved



Way Back Archive of his/her website. Scroll through to see all four wallet addresses so far.

So this appears to be how the scam works; continually change between several wallet addresses, claim the user got it wrong, delete any message chats, and block the user. 

I have no idea how long this user has been running this scam but it does appear like the user also has legitimate trades. In the approximately one and a half week or so period following the events, the address has only changed three times. So it appears from the outside to be selective.

No matter how often this has or hasn't occurred, and how much ETH has been stolen, it is technically illegal to offer a trade and deliver nothing at all. Therefore, it is against Mind's terms of service. 

Despite all the obvious suspicion, the only certainty I can have is that the user scammed me personally. But it certainly looks so very much like a running gig, there can really be no doubt that this is shady as hell.

I would have waited until the other wallet address, for my second transaction came around again, but whilst I waited for further evidence and for the minds staff to respond to my complaint, I've been feeling increasingly tense about other potential scam victims and the lack of action when a trail is already there.

So let my misfortune be a warning to others. ETH is not reversible like a credit card so there are risks (duh!), there are scammers out there on minds, and be very careful who you trade ETH or tokens with. Where possible, use the minds site itself or some kind of exchange where either a third party arbitrates the transaction, OR if you definitely trust the individual. 

Minds staff are obviously very busy. They have said they'd investigate this and I'll leave any future updates on that at the end of this blog post.

What can you do to avoid being ripped off?

My experience trading online with the wild west style economy China directly offers some hints. Short of a third party contract trading service, which is preferable; be as sure as you can that the person is trustworthy.

Check to see if their public conduct matches with a trustworthy person. If they delete messages or conversations is a bad sign, obviously. A trustworthy trader should never delete their tracks. I've created a group for posting reviews, negative and positive, of trades of any kind on Minds in order to help facilitate this. 

Primarily because messages and posts can be deleted by the user and there are no other safeguards in place. Having a place where the traders themselves cannot delete any posts and is public beyond anyone's smaller subscriber count, is important, in my opinion, to help spread word of mouth experiences and community feedback.

Minds Trade Review Group

Secondly, and this is more of a side suggestion, if you are feeling extra cautious, keep a tight record of your payments and conversations. Screenshot messager conversations for your first transactions with the user, same goes with public posts that can also be deleted (myself I did not, as I was not even aware private messages could be junked). 

It can be very hard to definitively prove you have been scammed in this environment.

Lastly, and I think this is the MOST important. Start low. Start with a smaller trade to build up trust, and work your way slowly up to larger trades. This is the key to trading in wild west economies like China. Go slow. Establish a sense of mutual trust.

If you've been scammed by this user, coming forward would be helpful, as it might help the minds staff be in a position to take action.

Minds is primarily a social media site. But with a built-in token system linked to Ethereum, it's also increasingly a place people trade and exchange goods, services and tokens. As people come from normal third party transaction systems with built-in safeguards and conventional social media sites where any sales are also handled by third parties, they will not be much aware of these risks, and perhaps naive like I was.

At a minimum, people should be made aware of sharks. Don't be stupid, like I was. Be cautious. 

Update 

Originally the investigation into Erindrops was dropped because they deactivated their account. Erindrops has since returned, recently. It appears they were simply laying low. In a further development of the plot, a new account called Mindstokenx has emerged, promoting a website, on the exact same web provider, webnode, with an identical look and purpose. Ie, it's far more likely than not, it's the same person. Here's the website, so you can see how similar it is to the ones screenshoted those months ago from Erindrops operation:

Mindstokenx  

Any reasonable person would suspect a sock account.