Airdrop Scams in Crypto and How to Avoid Them

Airdrops have become a popular way for crypto projects to give tokens to people who might use or invest in them. But not all airdrops are real.

Picture yourself walking through a busy market. A seller offers you a free taste of their delicious-looking fruit. You take a bite, tempted by the offer, but then you realize the fruit is spoiled and tastes bitter. Like that, airdrop scams trick people into thinking they'll get free tokens. But instead of a nice reward, they give you a bad experience, and you might lose money.

In this article, we'll learn how airdrop scams work and, most importantly, give you the knowledge to protect yourself from falling for these tricks. You’ll be able to spot and avoid these scams by the time you finish reading this article.

What are airdrop scams in crypto?

Airdrop scams are fake giveaways. Scammers carefully create them to take advantage of the excitement around new DeFi projects and protocols. These scams often go after new crypto investors, tempting them with the promise of free tokens while trying to get into their Web3 wallets.

How do airdrop scams work?

Airdrop scams usually follow a similar pattern:

  1. Scammers make a fake airdrop website that resembles a real project's website or social media account.
  2. They advertise these fake airdrops on social media, often using fake profiles or pretending to be well-known people in the crypto world.
  3. People who don't know any better are excited to claim the promised free tokens and connect their wallets to the fake website.
  4. The fake airdrop site might ask users to enter private keys, seed phrases, or approve unlimited token access.
  5. Once users connect their wallets or give sensitive information, scammers can enter their accounts and drain their funds.

Sometimes, investors might find new tokens of unknown origin in their wallets. When they try to discover where these tokens came from using blockchain explorers, they might see error messages that send them to a fake website to "claim" the tokens. This is another trick scammers use to get users to connect their wallets to dangerous sites.


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Types of airdrop scams

Airdrop scams come in many shapes and sizes, but they all use some form of deception to trick investors into letting their guard down. Let's take a closer look at some common ways scammers try to trick crypto investors.

  1. Fake profile marketing airdrop

One trick scammers use is making fake profiles that look a lot like real projects or famous people. For example, when Celestia had their recent earndrop program and launched TIA, a scammer made a fake profile that looked like the official Celestia account. The fake account (calestiatoken) looked similar to the real one (CelestiaOrg) but had a different name.

The scammer announced they were giving away 10 million TIA tokens to 1,200 people who retweeted the post and shared their ETH wallet address. This helped the fake account get more attention and set the stage for a fake airdrop token claim scam. However, Celestia isn't a token based on Ethereum, so this was clearly a scam.

  1. Impersonation of popular accounts

In another common airdrop scam, fraudsters make fake accounts that copy famous people or platforms in the crypto sphere. They might use a similar profile picture, name, or website address to trick you into thinking they're real.

For instance, imagine seeing a tweet from an account resembling a well-known airdrop aggregator, like The post has a link to claim a special airdrop, but when you look closer, you notice that the URL is slightly different – instead of "," it says ""

If you clicked on this link and connected your wallet, you'd fall into the scammer's trap. It's a solid security practice to double-check if a website or account is actual before interacting with it.

  1. Fake airdrop claim websites

Many genuine airdrops ask you to prove your eligibility by connecting your wallet to an official claim website. However, scammers have noticed this trend and started making their own fake claim sites that look much like the real ones.

For example, many fake claim websites appeared with names similar to the official site during the Celestia airdrop. Even though the website addresses differed, people who didn't know better could easily fall for these phishing sites, asking them to connect their wallets or give their seed phrases.

  1. Fake token and NFT airdrops

In this airdrop scam variation, the scammer sends fake tokens or NFTs directly to your wallet, along with instructions on how to claim your supposed rewards. These tokens or NFTs often have names similar to real projects but with small differences or typos.

For example, you might find an NFT in your wallet that claims to be from a popular project like Bored Ape Yacht Club, but when you look closer, you notice that it's called "Bored Ape Yatch Club'' instead. These fake assets are made to make you curious and tempt you into interacting with them.

How to avoid airdrop scams

Staying alert and protecting yourself is essential. Here are some important tips to prevent falling for these scams:

— Do your own research about the airdrop

Real airdrops are not kept secret — the protocol wants to get more users and make people interested. Before joining an airdrop, take the time to carefully research the project, what it needs, and what other investors have experienced. Use official sources whenever possible, and only interact with the protocol after double-checking the site address (watch out for typos).

Remember that airdrop programs that ask you to send any crypto before claiming airdropped tokens are very suspicious. This doesn't include common airdrop tasks like putting assets into the protocol or making swaps.

Your research will help you decide if you need to be extra careful while participating in the airdrop program or if it's best to stay away from it completely.

— Verify the information source

As discussed earlier, scammers can make accounts and websites that look like those of real projects, using them to spread false information about bad airdrops. These scams are made to trick investors who don't check where the information is coming from before acting.

Looking closely, you can usually spot differences between real and fake profiles. Fake profiles and sites often have typos. Also, research the people promoting the airdrop to ensure they're legit. While it's a good idea to use well-known influencers as a source of information, this alone isn't enough to say an airdrop is 'real.' Ultimately, it's up to you to do your thorough research.

— Never expose your private keys or recovery phrases

Any airdrop, giveaway program, or project that asks you to enter your private keys or seed phrases is a scam. Your private key and recovery phrase should only be known by you and stored offline on a secure device like a hardware wallet. Never enter this sensitive information on any website; no real app will ask for your private keys. This rule applies not only to airdrops but to all crypto interactions.

— Connect your wallet to websites

Some airdrops require you to connect your wallet, sign messages, or claim your rewards directly to your wallet, while others may simply ask you to enter your wallet address. Even if the latter seems less risky, ensuring the platform is authentic is still important.

  • Carefully check the platform to ensure you are interacting with the correct one.
  • Be aware that fake websites often look exactly like the original, with the only giveaway being a typo in the URL.
  • If a token appears in your wallet with an error message telling you to visit a site to claim it, it's probably a scam.

By following these guidelines and being careful, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling for airdrop scams and protect your crypto assets.


Airdrops can be an exciting way to discover new crypto projects and get free tokens, but it's very important to be careful and watch out for tricksters. As airdrops become more popular, so do scams that try to trick people who aren't expecting it. 

By learning about common airdrop scam tricks, doing your own research, and following important rules like never sharing your private keys or connecting your wallet to websites you're unsure about, you can greatly lower your chances of falling for these schemes. Remember, if an airdrop seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stay informed, trust your instincts, and always put the safety of your crypto assets first.


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I received tokens in my wallet that I didn't buy. Could this be a scam?

It's possible, especially if the tokens have an error message telling you to visit a site to claim them. In these cases, it's best to be very careful and research where the token came from before doing anything. Real airdrops will not ask you to connect your wallet to an unknown site to claim tokens.


An influencer I follow is promoting an airdrop. Does this mean it's safe to participate?

Not always. While influencers can be a good source of information, it's essential to do your own research instead of just trusting what they say. Scammers might make fake profiles pretending to be famous influencers to promote bad airdrops. Always check if the influencer's account is real and compare the airdrop information with official sources.


What should I do if I suspect an airdrop is a scam?

If you have doubts about whether an airdrop is real, the safest thing to do is to not participate at all. You can also report suspicious airdrops or websites to the official channels where the project is being copied. Spreading awareness about possible scams can help protect other users in the community.

Can I participate in airdrops without risking my crypto assets?

While risk is always involved, following best practices can lower the chances of getting hurt. Only participate in airdrops from trusted, verified sources, and never share your private keys or seed phrases. Be careful when connecting your wallet to unfamiliar sites, and always review the permissions and token approvals being asked for.