Scammers pretending to be Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk have been hijacking Twitter accounts to promote bitcoin scams.
Those behind the scam hijack verified accounts – those with a blue checkmark next to them, change the account name and bio to that of Musk and then promote a bitcoin giveaway that requires users to make a small bitcoin payment for a chance to win larger amounts.
The first versions of the scam appeared Nov. 5 with a new campaign starting Monday that saw verified accounts from politicians and corporations hijacked for the purpose.
Hacked accounts promoting the scheme included Farah menswear, the Australia office of IT consulting firm Capgemini, film production company Pathe and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.
Verified accounts are the particular target as it’s seen as a way to trick users into believing that the tweets are real, a blue checkmark giving a veil of legitimacy versus an unverified account. In some cases, other hacked verified accounts posted that they’d received money from Musk, adding even more legitimacy to the scam.
There are also some reports that scammers paid to have the tweet promoted, further adding to the tweets having a perceived legitimacy by Twitter users.
The attacks seem to be somewhat successful, with The Next Web reporting that the bitcoin wallet used on the Capgemini account had received inward payments of around 2 bitcoin, worth approx. $12,000. In a previous Elon Musk themed Twitter scam, the scammers allegedly managed to trick users into handing over $180,000 worth of bitcoin before the scam was shut down.
In a statement, Twitter said that impersonating another user is against the social network’s rules and that it has been improving how it tackles cryptocurrency scams.
“Scammers are constantly changing their methods and it’s our job to stay on top of their movements, observe their actions and work to stay one step ahead,” Twitter said. “In most cases, our enforcement teams are detecting this activity and taking these down before they’re reported.”
Twitter also added that users can add two-factor authentication to reduce the chances of their accounts being hacked.
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