Google Ads Exploited In $59M Crypto Scam

Cybercriminals exploit Google Ads, using MS Drainer to steal $59 million in crypto from unsuspecting users.

What are the risks of scams on Google Ads?

A recent Scam Sniffer report reveals that cybercriminals have been exploiting Google Ads to promote counterfeit crypto websites, bypassing Google’s ad verification and content quality checks. This misuse of Google’s advertising platform has led to significant financial losses for users. The scammers employed sophisticated methods such as regional targeting, webpage switching, and web redirects to evade detection, effectively turning Google Ads into an instrument for their fraudulent activities.

The Role Of MS Drainer In Crypto Theft

Central to these scams is MS Drainer, a phishing script sold on various forums for $1,499.99, with additional modules priced between $500 and $1,000. This script facilitates the unauthorized transfer of digital assets without the owner's confirmation. Notably, unlike other hacking tools, MS Drainer's developers do not claim a share of the stolen funds, thus maintaining their anonymity. This script has been instrumental in the large-scale theft of cryptocurrencies via fake websites mimicking major crypto projects.

Extent Of The Scam And Methodologies

Scam Sniffer analysts have identified 10,072 phishing sites promoted through Google Ads containing MS Drainer in the last nine months. These sites were clones of well-known crypto platforms, successfully deceiving 63,210 users. Among the replicated projects were Lido, DefiLlama, Radient, Zapper, Orbiter Finance, and Stargate. Additionally, in November, cybersecurity experts noticed an increase in the use of fake social media apps like Skype or Telegram for phishing purposes, further demonstrating the evolving tactics of these cybercriminals.

Google Ads screenshot
Google searches can provide malicious results.

Implications And Growing Threats

This series of incidents underscores a growing trend in cybercrime, where trusted platforms like Google Ads are being manipulated to facilitate large-scale scams. The effectiveness of these tactics, combined with the anonymity provided by tools like MS Drainer, presents a significant challenge to cybersecurity. It also highlights the need for heightened vigilance among crypto users and the importance of robust cybersecurity measures to protect against such sophisticated phishing attacks.

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