As Bitcoin scams go, this one takes some beating in the stretched credibility stakes. In a physically mailed letter purporting to be from Buckingham Palace, brazen scammers have asked recipients for a Bitcoin donation to help the U.K. fund its Brexit mess. After more than three-years of quagmire, Brexit will now “happen quite quickly,” and the money is needed “to save Great Britain’s economy.”
Paul Ridden, CEO of a U.K. technology company, claimed to have received the letter and duly shared it on LinkedIn. For such a poorly drafted scam to be sent by regular mail is bizarre—especially given the would-be fraud revolves around cryptocurrency.
"I think it's an attempt to be different,” Ridden told ITPro. “In a corporate world, one of the things we're always trying to protect against is these social engineering attacks and I guess coming in on paper, it's perhaps trying to come through a door that's not protected... As a tech firm ourselves, we're reasonably aware of what's going on—so, nobody's going to be sending any Bitcoin off to them."
Asking for between £450,000 and £2,000,000 ($585,000 and $2,600,000), the letter promises 30% interest for a three-month loan, as well as membership of the Royal Warrant Holders Association—a legitimate organization that supports individuals and businesses that have “supplied goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales for at least five years.”
More importantly, the letter promises to delay any economic hard-shocks from Brexit and to keep EU imports running as normal. All in all, hard to refuse.
Paul Ridden on LinkedIn: "Look what landed on my desk today, all the way from Buckingham Palace don't you know I always had the feeling that she would turn to me in an emergency to save the country Now I know Her Majesty the Queen needs my help to save us all from a no deal Brexit I'm off to see how much I can find to send to her bitcoin wallet (Its probably not going to be £2M though) Made me laugh, does anyone really fall for this? #HilariousPhishing #brexit "
According to the letter, “signed” by the Queen’s Private Secretary, £19 billion ($24.7 billion) must be paid by the U.K. to the EU “to save and sustain the economy.” The good news is that the Queen has already raised 82% of the required funds. The bad news is that the October 19 deadline to raise the rest is approaching fast.
The recipients of the letter are also asked to keep its contents secret, to avoid it “going viral,” which might have adverse effects on the “bilateral agreements” now in place.
Targeted scams and social engineering have reached almost epidemic proportions. The use of familiar names and platforms to entice victims into trusting scammers has become sophisticated enough that it is often hard to spot. Not this time, though.
If this is a “legitimate” scam and not a prank of some sort, the main question raised is why would fraudsters go to so much trouble in framing an attack to let themselves down with poor grammar and such an obvious ruse. With email and messaging compromises, it’s a volume play—you can mail and message many thousands of people at a time and you might get a handful of positive responses. With a physical attack the numbers simply don’t work.
Unsurprisingly this scam does not seem to have generated any Bitcoin funds. And so the quest for Britain’s orderly exit from Europe continues.
The Queen, one can assume, is decidedly unamused.