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Fake Uniswap $10 million airdrop reported as several prominent crypto media scammed


A sophisticated social engineering campaign successfully duped several prominent crypto news outlets into promoting a fabricated $10 million Uniswap airdrop on Feb. 16. The scammer, posing as a Uniswap Foundation representative, offered coordinated publicity in tandem with the legitimate Uniswap v4 announcement.

CryptoSlate declined to cover the airdrop, noting concerns about potential malicious changes to tracking links post-publication. While Uniswap’s v4 announcement proved genuine, the accompanying airdrop was exposed as a scam.

The scammer meticulously built credibility, referencing a conversation with “Uniswap’s VP of Communication” and proposing favorable payment coverage. This level of coordination suggests an evolution in tactics utilized by scammers targeting the crypto media space.

As the conversation of a potential partnership continued, the scammer began to increase the complexity of their duplicity. Below is a forged screenshot of an email sent to CryptoSlate to prove the campaign’s legitimacy.

Forged email of Uniswap partnership
Forged email of Uniswap partnership

However, on reviewing the content, CryptoSlate identified the use of tracking links using redirects rather than typical UTM parameters, meaning that the links could be changed to direct to any website at any time, with the publication having to alter the content.

The scammer was confronted, upon which further communication ceased. The company involved in the scam is registered in the United Kingdom, one of the top three countries for crypto crime in 2023.

Uniswap airdrop scam claims

The article in question, successfully published on numerous crypto media sites, falsely claimed the launch of Uniswap V4 and a $10 million UNI airdrop. It included real links to the Uniswap website, which were then changed to point to a phishing site after Uniswap made its actual announcement.

Specifically, it reported a generous $10 million UNI airdrop to celebrate the V4 launch. It described it as a “first-come, first-serve” initiative to reward the community and attract new users. This move was presented as a strategy to democratize financial participation and engage users. This contrasts legitimate airdrops conducted based on previous wallet activity, not first-come, first-serve.

In contrast, the real news highlights the Uniswap Foundation’s announcement of the tentative launch date for Uniswap V4 following the Ethereum Dencun upgrade. The genuine announcement focuses on the development stages, including core code completion, testing, gas optimization, and security enhancements. It mentions a community audit contest and the deployment to the testnet as preparatory steps for the final launch in the Ethereum mainnet, tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2024.

While no financial losses for readers have been reported as of press time, this incident erodes trust. For reputable news outlets, maintaining credibility is paramount. In the aftermath, crypto media and industry observers will look closer at measures necessary to safeguard against increasingly sophisticated social engineering scams.

This incident highlights the risks inherent in the fast-paced crypto news cycle. Publishers face mounting pressure to break impactful stories quickly but must thoroughly vet potential sources. The scammer’s use of self-destructing messages adds a layer of security, hindering post-incident investigations.

It serves as a salient reminder of the due diligence required in crypto reporting. In this instance, the fraudulent airdrop scheme closely paralleled a major legitimate product announcement, increasing plausibility. Journalists are advised to maintain a healthy skepticism and employ rigorous verification techniques, even when confronted with seemingly urgent and enticing opportunities.


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