Australians should avoid scanning paper wallets they find on the street, Experts Warn

Fraudsters have reportedly been leaving fake crypto paper wallets in public places as part of a scam to dupe Australians out of their crypto.

Australian users are advised to stay away from suspicious-looking fake Bitcoin paper wallets, which operate by luring victims into accessing a lucrative crypto wallet but then drain them of their own crypto assets.

In a Nov. 22 post on the NSW Police Force’s Facebook page, the scam starts as a paper cryptocurrency wallet with a QR code, which looks like a legitimate Bitcoin paper wallet.

Scammers leave these in public places such as streets or parks.

A person who finds the paper wallet and scans the QR code is directed to click on a link to access a crypto wallet with up to A$16,000 Australian dollars ($10,000).

To withdraw the funds, the victim is asked to pay a withdrawal fee and provide their own wallet credentials. These allegedly allow the victim to transfer the balance into their own crypto wallet.

“A person pays a withdrawal fee and provides their crypto wallet details, and then their cryptocurrency is stolen from their crypto wallets,” said the NSW police.

The authorities have warned the public against attempting to scan the QR code on this paper crypto wallet, accessing the account, or supplying their private information, because anyone who does so may end up losing money.

They should hand over the wallet to their local police station instead.

A Reddit user posted a message last month warning of a possible crypto wallet scam after spotting a paper wallet in a store. This is not the first time Australia has seen such a scam. In March, a user on Reddit described finding a paper wallet and flagged it as a scam.

Many individuals from around the country provided their own tales of finding paper cryptocurrency wallets in the streets, on the beaches, and in the parks.

Pinnymc said they almost fell for it because they could see the wallet address and transactions on the blockchain. They also thought the website was real.

Pinnymc claims they became suspicious due to the 0.5% transaction fee.

“It looks like a real wallet, so I’d like to be able to withdraw and pay no fees, but I can’t. It’s such a shame,” said the user.

Australian consumers lost 242.5 million Australian dollars to investment and crypto-related scams as of June, according to data from the Australian consumer watchdog’s Scamwatch.

The country’s federal law enforcement agency also identifies the criminal use of crypto as an “emerging threat”. However, criminals who constantly change their methods and techniques are a challenge for law enforcement agencies to keep up with.