In the crypto world, scammers never sleep: a fake Monero hard fork has emerged, and it intends to steal funds from unsuspecting Monero users. The project is called Monero Rings, and it is accompanied by two sites, monero-rings.org and myxrmwallet.com. But don’t be fooled—both sites are apparently fraudulent.
Too Good To Be True
Monero Rings claims to be an improved version of Monero, promising fast transactions, scalability, better mining, and even non-fungible tokens. All of these things are superficially reasonable, but the fact that the promised features have emerged out of nowhere is extremely suspicious.
The fake project was discovered by a wallet company called Guarda last week. On closer inspection, they found that the project’s code had simply been cloned from Monero itself. They also demonstrated that one web form sends users’ mnemonic seeds to the site’s own servers—allowing the fraudsters to obtain private keys and steal funds.
No Take Down Yet
Four days after its discovery, Monero Rings has still not been taken down. However, two browser extensions, Metamask and EtherAddressLookup, have blocked the site. These are Ethereum-related extensions, though, which could prevent the warning from reaching Monero users. Fortunately, Monero itself has retweeted the news:
PSA: Users beware, the Monero Rings fork intends to steal your private keys: //t.co/iIQr3nwCGZ
— Monero || #xmr (@monero) February 28, 2019
Undoubtedly, some users will fall victim to the attack before it is shut down. Fake forks, airdrops, and other derivative projects are a tried-and-true way of creating convincing phishing sites. Guarda has also discovered similar campaigns on Ethereum, meaning that Monero is hardly unique in this regard.
Real Hard Fork Approaching
This fake Monero hard fork has arrived just in time to coincide with a real hard fork, which is due at the end of this week and will require absolutely nothing from basic users. Although the timing is slightly different, hype for the legitimate upgrade could potentially spill over onto the fake web site and lure in more victims.
This is not the only issue that Monero is facing at the moment: the shutdown of the popular but controversial web miner Coinhive is impending, and a newly-fixed bug in Monero’s code is also coming to light. Confronting the fake “Monero Rings” hard fork on top of these other issues could prove to be a challenge.