How the Scam Works
Scammers reach out on various platforms (Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) offering their victims bitcoin, through mining or other investment schemes. The reason why they are offering bitcoin varies, the scammer’s goal is simply to convince the victim that they will be sending bitcoin to their own personal wallet.
The scammer asks the victim to download Blockstream Green, as this is where they will be sending the bitcoin. The scammer then guides the victim through the setup of a Testnet wallet on Green. Funds in a Testnet wallet do not have any real value, so the scammer sends testnet bitcoin to the wallet. This is usually enough to trick the user into thinking they have actually received bitcoin. The wallet will show a balance of bitcoin, but this is simply for testing purposes and cannot be sold.
When the victim tries to send their “bitcoin” to an exchange to sell it, they will receive an “invalid address” error. This is because you can only send testnet bitcoin to other testnet addresses, not to an exchange. The scammer claims they are receiving this error because they need to “validate their account”, obtain a “bitcoin access key”, or because they need to “convert the testnet bitcoin”, which they can have done by paying additional fees to the scammer. Of course, this is just to steal actual funds from the victim.
Testnet bitcoin is only used for testing purposes and does not have any value. It cannot be “activated” or “converted” to become mainnet bitcoin. Please view the screenshot at the bottom of this post to see whether or not you are using a testnet wallet.
Blockstream Green wallets do not require “account validation” or a “bitcoin access key” to spend funds. You can confirm this by generating a receiving address from your testnet wallet, then send your testnet bitcoin to this address. You will notice there is no longer an “invalid address” error.
Please note: any platform that offers significant profits in a short amount of time, or is offering to give away free bitcoin, is most certainly a scam.
How to Report the Scam
If you have encountered the scam described above, send us details on our Report a Scam form.
Unfortunately, we are not able to help you with resolving any disputes or recovering any funds, but your report will help us identify high-risk scams, alert the community, and report them to the relevant authorities.
We would also recommend that you take these additional measures:
- Submit an international scam report to econsumer.gov, an initiative of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN).
- Report the scammer on the platform they used to contact you.
Example of a Testnet Wallet