You may have heard of the online currency Bitcoin, and an unnamed Bakersfield man claims to be giving it out for free. Residents report finding stickers around town with codes you can scan on your phone. Some Bakersfield residents have won money from this unlikely scavenger hunt.
“I called the news and then I sent the bitcoin app for their contact information and email saying hey I just got this weird payment. I scanned it on a pole which is kind of sketchy,” said Indiana London, a Bakersfield resident who scanned one of the codes.
“As far as I know I’m not the only person this has happened to,” she said.
The “Bitcoin Man” operates from an anonymous Instagram account. His account claims that he’s giving away $1,000 worth of Bitcoin Cash, a form of the online currency Bitcoin. Tech experts uncovered a motive for this bizarre giveaway.
“To me it appears they’re running a promotion to run Bitcoin.com, which is a Bitcoin wallet company,” said Joe Gregory, the president of local technology company Grapevine MSP. “So the real draw there would be to get people signed up for their wallet system.”
The stickers direct users to Bitcoin.com. This is separate from Bitcoin.org, the website representing the online currency. Roger Ver, a Bitcoin mogul, runs this site. It allows users to store their Bitcoin in a virtual “wallet” for the currency.
“For bitcoin you’ve got to have a wallet to keep your bitcoin in. Some of those are online, some of those are offline hardware wallets,” said Joe Gregory.
He thinks this contest is safe, but it doesn’t overshadow the risk of other scams. Two months ago, a hacker stole over $120,000 by hijacking the twitter accounts of famous entities such as Bill Gates, Joe Biden and Elon Musk.
“You always have to be very careful any time something seems too good to be true,” he said. “In general any time you’re being asked to give out sensitive information you’ve got to look at what’s the risk reward and what’s your understanding of what’s going on.”
However, he believes this is a stunt to drive users for this Bitcoin wallet service. He warns users against giving out any information for any type of contest or giveaway– a hallmark of cryptocurrency scams.
If you’d like to find the Bitcoin Man on Instagram, his handle is @bitcoinbakersfield.