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The biggest crypto scams of 2022 (so far)



There's still a few months left for some big scams this year!
Ah, 2022. Cryptocurrency's first full year in the mainstream...and it was an unmitigated disaster. But even amid crypto's biggest crash yet, the scams flourished.
And while the value of cryptocurrency stolen is stunning, not everything is solely about the money. Last year, Mashable looked into the biggest crypto scams of 2021. Yes, some big bucks were being funneled via various scams and schemes included on that list. However, sometimes the audacity and uniqueness of these scams and hacks — perpetrated by people who only walk away with six figures worth of stolen crypto — are worth mentioning, too.
So, without any further ado, here are some of the biggest and boldest frauds, swindles, and rackets in cryptocurrency from 2022 thus far.
Celsius' crypto pyramid comes tumbling down
When the stablecoin Terra and its sister token Luna failed in May, it created a domino effect that took down the whole crypto market with it. Crypto lending companies in turn took a huge hit in the crypto crash. Celsius, formerly one of the largest crypto lenders, ended up filing for bankruptcy.
Things were already fishy when some Celsius clients began reporting they couldn't withdraw their funds in June. The now-former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky tried to calm fears by saying the company was not halting withdrawals. But then just days later, Celsius froze everyone's accounts.
Critics say that Celsius' promise of ridiculously high yields should have already been a warning sign that things were too good to be true. However, as more information comes to light in the aftermath, it seems increasingly likely that Celsius functioned much like a Ponzi scheme, paying off early investors with funds that came in from recent investors.
In fact, that's basically what regulators with the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation said.
"This shows a high level of financial mismanagement and also suggests that at least at some points in time, yields to existing investors were probably being paid with the assets of new investors," reads a September filing from the agency.
Thus, when the crypto market crashed, Celsius ran out of liquidity.
According to Celsius' bankruptcy filings, the crypto lender owes around $4.7 billion to its investors.
Ukraine rug pulls donors (for good reason!)
One of these scams is not like the others and it's this one: When the government of Ukraine rug pulled its donors. However, it needs to be included because it's honestly so great: a rare "good" scam.
In February of 2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian government quickly decided to accept donations in the form of cryptocurrencies to take advantage of the big pockets in the crypto space who are always looking to pump their coins and generate good press.
While a decent number of donations came in at first, the crypto started to pour in after Ukraine announced an airdrop to those who donated via the Ethereum network. An airdrop is basically when crypto wallet holders are sent freebies, usually in the form of crypto tokens or NFTs. As Ukraine put it, they were essentially sending donors a "reward" for donating.
Enter the bad-faith actors. People started sending a slew of crypto donations to Ukraine to take advantage of the airdrop. Around 60,000 transactions were made on the Ethereum blockchain to Ukraine in less than 2 days. According to Ukrainian officials, individuals started to send minuscule sums of money just so they could register in time to receive the airdrop. Ostensibly, these individuals were looking to profit off of a country in wartime by receiving a "reward" more valuable than whatever they donated to flip the freebie for quick profits.