KEY POINTS

  • A user falls victim to a copy and paste scam
  • The wallet address he copied from Coinbase has been replaced with one belonging to scammers
  • A Bitcoin address usually have 26 to 35 alphanumeric keys and Coinbase shows only the first few characters

A cryptocurrency investor recently lost $350 worth of bitcoins to a copy and paste crypto scam.. 

In a Reddit post, a user named "seraf1990" warned members of the cryptocurrency Reddit Sub of a scam or malware that replaced a wallet address copied from Coinbase with an address that belonged to scammers. The user said he was planning to cash out some bitcoins by sending it from Binance to his Coinbase account and copied the BTC wallet address through the built-in copy function. He then pasted it as the destination address when Binance asked where he would like to send the bitcoins. 

He confirmed the transaction without a second thought.

Later, he realized that the address he put on Binance is different from his Coinbase BTC wallet address and the only similarity is that the first 4 characters are the same.

According to Cointelegraph, the compounding issue is that Coinbase does not show the entire wallet address of the user but only the first few characters. The user suspects this is one reason why he didn't detect the address swap initially.

"Money lost. No way to recover it. Please don’t repeat my mistake and do not blindly trust to copy-paste buffer, your computer could be infected with malware that swaps addresses and it will be too late when you realize that," he shared on Reddit, adding that funds were intended as payment for rent.  

Other users said it could be malware on his Windows machine or a browser add-on. But seraf1990 had already formatted his computer so there is no way to confirm what method was used to swap the address.

A cryptocurrency wallet address is an identifier of 26 to 35 alphanumeric characters that represents a possible destination of a Bitcoin transfer or payment. The 35 characters are practically difficult to memorize. Because of that, many exchanges employ the use of QR codes and copy-paste functions to eliminate errors and incorrect wallet transfers.

However, the case described by serif1990 is an indication that even those functions could be exploited by scammers using malware to swap the addresses. It is important for the user to triple check the destination addresses of a Bitcoin transaction in order to avoid loss of funds.

Bitcoin-Initiative Q A smartphone displays the Bitcoin USD market value on the stock exchange via the Yahoo Finance app. Photo: Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images