When it comes to the “next big thing” for independent platforms, the Substack newsletter platform was at the forefront. The company has attracted well-known independent writers like Casey Newton and Glenn Greenwald to the platform to create their own newsletters.
Substack is now also being used for its ease of use and reach by scammers impersonating various cryptocurrency projects, and encouraging those who manage to “update their smart contracts” and send funds to a proxy contract ID.
The language on several newsletter emails was similar, just plugging in and playing around with different project names, suggesting they have similar origins.
The Scam Substack newsletter embodies Gnosis
For a fraud newsletter that embodies the Gnosis project, the dec of the newsletter reads: “The updated smart contract uses 71% less fuel, supports updates thanks to proxy patterns and allows you to participate in future votes.” Newsletter stated that no immediate action is required, early update GNO holders will be able to qualify for the new Liquidity Rewards program starting January 20th, which will last one week.
Gnosis’ Twitter account tweeted that the newsletter was fraudulent. In the tweet, the Gnosis account asked users not to interact with that Substack account, share their wallet address, or send money.
“Gnosis was made aware of the phishing attempt on Substack via Twitter because we were one of many popular blockchain projects,” said Gnosis strategy director Kei Kreutler in a direct message. “We contacted Substack immediately and they deleted the fraudulent account.”
When CoinDesk reached out to Substack about the account on Jan. 15, it found that the account had been deleted but did not answer questions about the preventative measures for these type of situations.
“We have permanently removed this account from the platform and subscribers no longer have access to the deceptive Substack website,” said the support team.
Other projects affected
Gnosis wasn’t the only project in which this happened.
“Along with sending emails to relevant users, this is an infrastructure of its own [the newsletters] used the same Fraud Contract ID – 0x093fAd33c3Ff3534428Fd18126235E1e44fA0d19. ”
However, the scam posing as Gnosis seems to have already been at least partially successful a respondent to the Gnosis tweet admit to being a victim and send tokens to this proxy. Another expressed surprise that Gnosis wasn’t the one who sent these emails after receiving one.
“We look forward to [Web 3.0] Account tools are becoming an integral part of providing a trustworthy, unique and authenticated identity on the web, so that such problems are less common on other platforms in the future, ”said Kreutler. “This is why we created the Gnosis Safe and we hope that platforms like Substack will start adopting Web 3.0 technologies.”
Mimicking email to make it look like it came from a legitimate source is a common practice. The overall goal is for users to open them up and give up information or money. In fact, CoinDesk readers have been victimized by scammers who sent out emails impersonating us.
The Substack scam is a logical extension of this method with the aim of reaching a large group of people with seemingly legitimate material. Scammers often look for new and compelling ways to target people. While people might skip over a classic “Nigerian princeScam emails can get their attention when it comes to legitimate looking emails from a popular newsletter site.
With a limited Number of moderators and substacks hands-off approachIt will probably be up to the readers to look out for such scams as they arise.