How to Identify a Fake Investment Website

We put together a quick guide to help determine if the cryptocurrency investment website you are about to send money to is real.

Have you ever found yourself presented with links or messages urging you to invest in cryptocurrency, but you aren’t sure if the person or website is legitimate? We put together a quick guide to help determine if the website or investor you are about to send money to is legitimate.

How did you come across this investment opportunity?

  1. Did the opportunity come from comments on social media posts or profiles you follow?
  2. Was the opportunity promoted by a social media account known for talking about making money?
  3. Were you reached out to directly by someone claiming to be an “investor” or “broker” working for such a site?
  4. Has someone told you that they will invest on your behalf if you send them funds?
  5. Does the website or individual contacting you promise returns much higher than usual with minimal input and effort?
  6. If you have been in contact with the investor, have they asked you to move communication to WhatsApp or another messaging service?
  7. Has the investor personally provided you with a QR code to send funds?
  8. Has the investor asked you to use CashApp or a Bitcoin ATM to send them crypto instead of requesting you send them funds through a bank transfer?

If you are answering yes to any of these, you are likely at risk for investment fraud. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. However, if you still are unsure if the opportunity is real or not, review our step-by-step guide to discover common red flags and determine the legitimacy of the website or investment opportunity.

Step 1: Website Logo

Fake websites often use low-resolution logos and imagery that appears to be blurry, altered, or off looking compared to images used on legitimate company websites.

lo-res logo

Step 2: Physical Address

Confirm that the company address listed on the website exists and doesn’t lead to a different company. Quickly searching the address listed on the company’s website on Google can help determine if the address is legitimate. Often, when a fake company’s address is searched on Google, the results will lead to residential homes, fields, or to the headquarters of a different company that has no association with the fraudulent website.

address 1

address 2

Fraud actors often set up multiple websites, reusing the same company address. If Googling the address leads to other “investment sites” or different businesses all with the same listed address, that is a clear sign that these are fraudulent websites.

Contact Fraud

Step 3: The Returns

Fake websites will regularly offer an unrealistically high return on investment for their listed investment packages. Promising large and continuous returns is not possible and is an extremely common indicator of fraud. The packages offered often use “catchy” tier levels like Gold and Elite.

price plan example

Step 4: The Founding Team

Fraudulent websites often use stock imagery on “Team” or “About” pages to make their founders and website seem more legitimate. To check this, you can copy and paste images into Google’s reverse image search or TinEye to check to see if the images are used elsewhere. Stock images may also be used for testimonials from “clients” with glowing reviews. Also, unlike legitimate companies, fraudulent sites will often not have a “careers” page showing open positions or their company culture.

founding team example

Step 5: Website Design

Broken Links

Many fraudulent websites will have buttons or social media widgets that either don’t work or lead back to the top of the website. Legitimate companies will not list links that do not function, especially those related to social media pages or legal paperwork.

Poor Grammar and Spelling

Some of these websites contain obvious grammar errors or mistakes that a legitimate exchange site would not make, even with translation occurring.

Spelling example

Filler Text

Often these scam websites are created quickly using readily available formatting and aren’t completed, leaving in filler text from a template such as “Lorem Ipsum” or unrelated text that’s clearly been copied.

Filler Text Example 1

filler text example 2

Same Copy, Layout, and Format

Scam websites will use identical copy, layout, and format of other scam sites for easy duplication. Copying paragraphs of text on these pages and pasting them in a search engine can often reveal multiple websites with different names that are otherwise exactly the same.

layout example 1

layout example 2

Some scam websites are only online for brief periods of time; however, these websites may still be listed by scammers. Always check the URL directly to see if the page works or exists.

404 example

Terms of Service or Privacy Policy

Terms of service pages and privacy policies are frequently copied directly from other scam websites or even legitimate ones. Often, pages will include errors where the scammers did not change the company information in the copy, leaving no mention of the actual website you are viewing.

tos example

Step 6: Company Registration

If listed, always check registration information for the company. Many of these scam websites will include altered or outright fake company registration information that can be easily checked using their registration or FINRA numbers listed. These may show discrepancies in the company name, registered company numbers, or other information that can indicate suspicious activity.

company registration example

What’s Next?

Although this guide is intended for individuals to determine the validity of an investment opportunity, we implore employees of cash-to-cryptocurrency companies to use this guide as well to protect their customers. Please use our Scam Reporting Tool if you’d like to report an investment scam or nefarious actor. If you’d like more information regarding illegitimate investment scams, reach out to the Cryptocurrency Compliance Cooperative.

Become a Member

Learn more about what it means to be part of the Cryptocurrency Compliance Cooperative