SADPonzi: Detecting and Characterizing Ponzi Schemes in Ethereum Smart Contracts

Weimin Chen, Xinran Li, Yuting Sui, Ningyu He, Haoyu Wang, Lei Wu, Xiapu Luo

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Ponzi schemes are financial scams that lure users under the promise of high profits. With the prosperity of Bitcoin and blockchain technologies, there has been growing anecdotal evidence that this classic fraud has emerged in the blockchain ecosystem. Existing studies have proposed machine-learning based approaches for detecting Ponzi schemes. However, these state-of-the-art approaches face several major limitations, including lacking interpretability, high false positive rates and the weak robustness to evasion techniques, These limitations mean that existing real-world methods for detecting Ponzi schemes are ineffective. In this paper, we propose SADPonzi, a semantic-aware detection approach for identifying Ponzi schemes in Ethereum smart contracts. Specifically, we propose a heuristic-guided symbolic execution technique to identify investor-related transfer behaviors and the distribution strategies adopted. Experimental result on a well-labelled benchmark suggests that SADPonzi can achieve 100% precision and recall, outperforming all existing machine-learning based techniques. We further apply SADPonzi to all 3.4 million smart contracts deployed by EOAs in Ethereum and identify 835 Ponzi scheme contracts, with over 17 million US Dollars invested by victims. Our observations confirm the urgency of identifying and mitigating Ponzi schemes in the blockchain ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGMETRICS 2021 - Abstract Proceedings of the 2021 ACM SIGMETRICS / International Conference on Measurement and Modeling of Computer Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages35-36
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380720
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2021
Event2021 ACM SIGMETRICS / International Conference on Measurement and Modeling of Computer Systems, SIGMETRICS 2021 - Virtual. Online, China
Duration: 14 Jun 202118 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameSIGMETRICS 2021 - Abstract Proceedings of the 2021 ACM SIGMETRICS / International Conference on Measurement and Modeling of Computer Systems

Conference

Conference2021 ACM SIGMETRICS / International Conference on Measurement and Modeling of Computer Systems, SIGMETRICS 2021
Country/TerritoryChina
CityVirtual. Online
Period14/06/2118/06/21

Keywords

  • ethereum
  • Ponzi scheme
  • smart contract
  • symbolic execution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Software

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