Hackers posing as notable tech billionaire, Elon Musk, on Twitter are defrauding people via fake Bitcoin giveaways. One attempt, in particular, amassed more than $180,000 in Bitcoin from the scam.
Fake Bitcoin Giveway
An elaborate Bitcoin scam recently surfaced on Twitter with fraudsters pretending to Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, promoting a cryptocurrency giveaway. The fake giveaways usually promise a return of 10x for people who send between 0.1-3 BTC to a listed Bitcoin address.
To make matters worse, many of these attempts are even supported with targeted ads on Twitter giving them more extensive exposure. The fraudsters also try to create websites that contain elements relating to Elon Musk including companies like SpaceX. One such attempt – by Musk imposter @PantheonBooks – directed users to musk[.]plus and, using the BTC address 1KAGE12gtYVfizicQSDQmnPHYfA29bu8Da, managed to scam participants out of $180,000 worth of Bitcoin.
To lend further legitimacy to the scam, these hackers are gaining control of Twitter accounts of government agencies in different countries. These commandeered Twitter profiles are then used to post false claims of being recipients of the BTC giveaway.
Twitter Scam Bots Entering a New Dimension
These days, scam bots on Twitter are stepping up their game even as the platform tries to combat their activities. In this latest iteration, rather than create fake Elon Musk Twitter profiles, scammers hijack other verified accounts, changing the name to that of the Tesla CEO, or something that looks like it at a casual glance.
Not content with impersonating Elon Musk (who for some reason appears to be the preferred “face” of this scam), these fraudsters go on to appear on legitimate tweets by the Tesla CEO. They act like they are the real Elon Musk before posting links to fake cryptocurrency giveaways.
Recently, Pathe UK; a film studio, has its Twitter name changed to Elon Musk and used to promote a fake Bitcoin giveaway for “spacex[.]plus.” Pathe has since been able to take back control of its account, deleting the fake posts.
For their part, Twitter continues to fight against such practices. In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the social media giant said:
Impersonating another individual to deceive users is a clear violation of the Twitter Rules. Twitter has also substantially improved how we tackle cryptocurrency scams on the platform. In recent weeks, user impressions have fallen by a multiple of 10 in recent weeks as we continue to invest in more proactive tools to detect spammy and malicious activity. This is a significant improvement on previous action rates.
Why do people continue to fall for such obvious scams and what can be done about it? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Bleeping Computer, Shutterstock