In what appears to be one of the newest Bitcoin scams around, Elon Musk’s satellite internet service, Starlink, has become a victim of third party companies posing as official providers – in exchange for payments to be made “confidentially” and in Bitcoins. The scam is being spread via a fairly convincing website that identically mimics the official Starlink site by SpaceX, which is incidentally still live and operational at the time of publishing the story, News18 has confirmed. The offer proposes users to pay a fixed hardware fee of $249 (approx. Rs 18,500), and a subsequent monthly fee of $49 (approx. Rs 3,500), but all in Bitcoin. The site also adds a disclaimer that the details of the payment will remain confidential, due to it being made via Bitcoins.
The scam, which has targeted users in Iran, is a likely precursor of more such scams that would attempt to use the Starlink brand name to earn quick, extra bucks. What complicates matters here is that since Elon Musk himself is a big proponent of cryptocurrencies, it may also not surprise users if they are asked to make payments in such formats. However, the dead giveaway is the fact that Starlink does not presently accept orders from markets where they have not announced the service in as yet, and Iran is clearly not one of them. To verify, users are advised to simply check on the official Starlink website by entering their address.
In markets where the service is being offered for pre-booking, Starlink is being marketed at a price of $499 (approx. Rs 37,500) as hardware fee and $99 (approx. Rs 7,500) as a monthly fee for the internet service. Given than Iran has widespread internet woes, it may well become an easy hunting ground for such scammers that promise open internet services in exchange for prior payments – without any guarantee. More nations may also witness such a Bitcoin scam, although the same may be more difficult to execute in India due to comparatively fewer people being invested in crypto, and the affordability of telecom services in India – coupled with the value centric buying decisions made by customers here.
However, scams such as these are hardly new. Earlier this year, self-titled “businessman”, and “founder” of right-wing social media app Squeaks Media and ‘aatmanirbhar’ payments app NaaradPay, Hitesh aka Neel Patel claimed to offer “an amazing service to the people” by ferrying new generation iPhones at almost half the cost. Almost 8,000 users are suspected to have been duped by the scam, if not more.