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Google Ads Crypto Scam: How to Spot Redirects That Send Users to Fake Sites

Last Updated August 29, 2023 9:35 AM
Omar Elorfaly
Last Updated August 29, 2023 9:35 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Users find 95% of crypto Google ads to lead to scam websites.
  • Google implemented anti-scam measures in the UK and Australia.
  • Google is trying to kill ad blockers.
  • It struggles to protect users from crypto scams.

Due to the decentralized nature and the anonymity cryptocurrencies provide, the industry has been plagued by scammers and hackers.

From scam wallets mimicking legitimate ones to a surge in hackers jeopardizing the industry’s safety, crypto investors face a constant stream of threats.

In its latest findings, crypto analytics firm DefiLlama found that the majority of crypto Google ads lead to scam websites.


A developer at DefiLlamma, 0xngmi, reported  that scammers have found a new way to trick unsuspecting victims. 

In their report, scammers purchase a Google ad spot for a genuine website, redirecting it to an ad network named Kochava.com. This network tracks the visitors’ actions and guides them to a scam site.

Scammers exploit Google’s legitimate interface, appearing like regular search ads. With an ad network, they can freely switch URLs to direct users to any desired page.

On top of that, these scams are intelligently inconsistent, rendering a user’s attempt to block certain URLs futile. A user tried accessing the same scam twice by clicking on the same ad multiple times. However, each attempt led to different results.

Changpeng Zhao, founder of the world’s biggest crypto exchange, Binance, even called out Google for not tackling the issue. 

“Google displays phishing sites when users search CMC. This affects users adding smart contract addresses to MetaMask using these phishing sites,” CZ said .

What’s Google Doing About it?

“As the digital world continues to evolve, Google makes ongoing investments in our policies and enforcement so people can have the safest possible experience online. In 2022, we added or updated 29 policies for advertisers and publishers,” reads an excerpt from a Google blog .

This included expanding our financial services verification program to 10 new countries, expanding protections for teens and strengthening our elections ads policies.”

“These policies help protect people. In 2022, we removed over 5.2 billion ads, restricted over 4.3 billion ads and suspended over 6.7 million advertiser accounts. This represents an increase of 2 billion more ads removed in 2022 from the previous year. We also blocked or restricted ads from serving on over 1.5 billion publisher pages and took broader site-level enforcement action on over 143,000 publisher sites.

“To enforce our policies at this scale, we rely on a combination of human reviews and automated systems powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. This helps sort through content and better detect violations across the globe.”

However, among the top recommendations to protect users from scams and phishing attacks is to install an ad block on browsers. Unfortunately, Google is now working on removing all adblock plugins from its popular Chrome web browser.


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