Some channel names on encrypted messaging service Telegram were more subtle than others—“Fraud Market” and “Fraud University” being among the most brazen.
But there is nothing subtle in some of the messaging on these channels, where users blatantly offered to sell driver’s licenses or Social Security cards to help others bypass identity verification on cryptocurrency exchanges.
“I will do everything for you to make money,” one user wrote on a page for the group “FAKE ID SHOP”.
In the last few years, there has been a surge in discussions on encrypted messaging apps about bypassing ID checks, a key step in stealing cryptocurrencies or money laundering via digital assets.
Some scammers post price lists for different services or fraudulent documents, such as scannable passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates or pay stubs. Others even offer to create a digital face rendering that could help an individual bypass more intensive crypto exchange ID checks.
Encrypted messaging apps like Telegram can keep the identity of users protected, making the platform a relative safe zone for discussions about illegal activity. Rarely are channels about fraud removed from the platform, says Brittany Allen, a trust and safety architect at anti-fraud company Sift. Allen has tracked conversations across Telegram channels like “FRAUD WORLD 2021” or “BitcoinBandits” for a year.