Crypto hackers use Elon Musk's name to fleece Twitter users

Elon Musk Twitter

On Tuesday, a series of verified Twitter accounts were hacked and retooled into fake Elon Musk accounts, whereupon they launched bitcoin giveaway scams that nabbed more than $100,000 Dollars worth of bitcoin from victims fooled by promises of massive returns from the fake Musk accounts.

By press time, the promotional tweet (which are paid for in an effort to reach a wider audience) had been removed, along with the profile image and name on the @pallonefornj account. These scammers are now resorting to hacking verified accounts and changing their names to popular celebrities such as Elon Musk and then promoting these tweets.

While it's far from the first time that scammers have promoted crypto tricks under Musk's name, it is the first time that prominent accounts with blue ticks have been targeted, presumably to add legitimacy to the attempt.

Often scammers have used other compromised accounts to respond to the initial post, claiming they've received a bitcoin payment in a move created to trick users into thinking the scheme is legitimate.

In addition to this, another tweet was posted which stated that Elon Musk is no more associated with the company and to mark the occasion he has planned a cryptocurrency giveaway, which of course is fake.

Several accounts were taken down after the scam was reported just after a few hours, and the fake Elon Musk tweets deleted.

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Clicking on the scams prompts the users to give anywhere from 0.1 to 1 Bitcoin to get 10 Bitcoin in return.

Victims do not receive any Bitcoin after sending money to the scam artists.

For example, the above tweet would appear to have been praised by verified accounts like boxer Rayton Okwiri, blogger Sarah Scoop, and Swansea City AFC Ladies. A closer look at the user's Twitter handle will reveal the account doesn't belong to Elon Musk, it's an imposter looking to capitalize on the crypto craze. In this case, two USA lawmakers with verified status, Frank Pallone and Brenda Lawrence, reportedly had their accounts taken over, alongside corporate accounts such as those belonging to film production firm Pathe UK.

A Pathe UK spokesperson told ZDNet that the firm was hacked by "an unknown third party" but that the issue had "now been resolved". The fake accounts then leveraged Musk's "authority" for bitcoin scams via promoted tweets. The first wave of these scams appeared on March and they have since become so frequent that in October, Elon Musk himself joke tweeted about it, asking "Wanna buy some Bitcoin?"

Celebrities who have had their names used in these scams have complained about it, urging Twitter to take more serious steps to tackle the problem. "In the last week alone, user impressions have fallen by a multiple of 10, a significant improvement on previous action rates".

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