New data has revealed which months carry a higher risk of blockchain users being targeted by scammers than others – with February named one of the worst times of the year. 

The findings from Smart Betting Guide follow an analysis of scams recorded in the REKT Database since 2011, which were split by date to calculate an average loss each month. The findings also show which types of scams were most prevalent over the same period. 

It turns out blockchain users should be particularly vigilant this month, as February ranks third as the month that saw the most funds stolen, with an average of £623,366,085 taken by scammers each year. This is 6% higher than the average monthly loss (£589,851,197). 

Overall, the month with the highest likelihood of being targeted by cryptocurrency scams is December, with an average loss of £821,716,080 (39% above the monthly average). 

Ranking second is January, with an average of £662,039,960 taken yearly. This is 12.2% above the monthly average and makes for a tough start to the year for blockchain users.

The risk drops slightly once we get into March, with the average sum lost equating to 2.9% less than the monthly average. Overall, the likelihood of being hit by a crypto scam is higher in the first half of the year compared to the second half – aside from in December. 

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By GlobalData

Things look better in summer, as the month with the lowest risk of being targeted by scammers is June, with an average of £532,288,114 taken. Although this is 11% below the monthly average, it’s still a significant loss – especially for those with a small investment. 

Months ranked from highest to lowest likelihood of being targeted by scammers 

 MonthAverage Funds LostComparison to the Monthly Average (£589,851,197)
1December£821,716,08039.3% higher
2January£662,039,96012.2% higher
3February£623,366,0855.7% higher
4May£574,335,6072.7% lower
5April£573,885,5732.8% lower
6March£573,062,3172.9% lower
7November£572,170,5783.1% lower
8October£537,474,9279.7% lower
9September£537,327,8949.8% lower
10August£535,380,74310.2% lower
11July£535,166,48710.2% lower
12June£532,288,11410.8% lower

As well as identifying when blockchain users are most likely to be targeted by scammers, the data reveals which scams resulted in the highest losses since 2011. Rug pull exit scams proved the most damaging, with a total of £12.5 billion stolen over the past 13 years. 

Rug pull exit scams see scammers aggressively promote a token via fraudulent means and liquidate invested funds without warning, resulting in £110,172,883 taken last year alone. 

Following behind is access control exploits, which see scammers exploit a system vulnerability to gain direct access to user credentials or data, resulting in £2.7 billion taken since 2011. The biggest loss was reported in March 2022 (£371,748,840 stolen). 

Rounding out the top three scams that resulted in the biggest loss are flash loan attacks, which see loans borrowed and repaid within the same transaction without collateral. Scammers manipulate the price of assets, repay the flash loan, and steal the profit. 

This flash loan attack resulted in £592.2 million stolen by hackers over the last 13 years – and saw blockchain users lose £77,546,001 over the last year alone. 

The five most prevalent scam types since 2011, ranked

 ScamTotal Sum Lost 2023 Sum Lost
1Rug Pull Exit Scam£12,510,874,043£110,172,883
2Access Control Exploit£2,776,694,259£665,755,583
3Flash Loan Attack£592,265,033£77,546,001
4Oracle Issue Exploit£279,222,346£104,424,724
5Reentrancy Exploit£82,531,453£49,762,004

The least damaging scam since 2011 came out as the abandoned exit scam, with a comparatively small £4,325,538 stolen. This refers to scammers taking an abandoned token and lying about its high returns or technology to attract investors. 

Regarding the findings, Zigmas Pekarskas, CEO of Smart Betting Guide, said: “As with any technical asset, cryptocurrency is vulnerable to scams – especially as it continues to grow in popularity and application. This is particularly true given crypto transactions are often anonymous and typically irreversible, so it’s difficult to trace transactions back to individuals. 

“It makes sense that December is the month when scams are most rife, as the holiday season sees blockchain users spend more and seek out end-of-year investments to end things on a high. June carries a lower likelihood of being exploited as it tends to be a period of relatively lower volatility compared to other months. 

“The most obvious sign is if someone is typing to gain access to your private information, like security codes or login details. Do not share your personal information unless you are 100% sure the request is safe – especially if you’ve been randomly contacted over text or email. Also, be wary of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ returns, discounts, or tokens. If you know a cryptocurrency is particularly volatile, exercise caution before accepting investment advice.”