Crooks are exploiting the popularity of Elon Musk and a series of hacked verified Twitter accounts (i.e. UK retailer Matalan, US publisher Pantheon Books, and official government Twitter accounts such as the Ministry of Transportation of Colombia and the National Disaster Management Authority of India.) in a simple as effective scam scheme.
This is a blatant scam which is being promoted by Twitter and by other potencially hacked or impersonating VERIFIED accounts.
— ₿iht Coign BSc (Hons) (@abztrdr) November 5, 2018
The accounts were hacked to impersonate Elon Musk, once hijacked, scammers changed the accounts’ names and profile pictures to those of the popular entrepreneur and started using them to share tweet calling for people to send him cryptocurrency.
The accounts were informing Twitter users of a new alleged Musk’s initiative of creating the biggest crypto-giveaway of 10,000 bitcoins.
“I’m giving 10 000 Bitcoin (BTC) to all community!” I left the post of director of Tesla, thank you all for your support,” states the hacked account of Pantheon Books.
With this scheme crooks already earned over 28 bitcoins or approximately $180,000 USD, in just a single day, the scammers received 392 transactions to the bitcoin address 1KAGE12gtYVfizicQSDQmnPHYfA29bu8Da.
In order to improve the visibility of the Tweets, scammers promoted a series of giveaway sites through Twitter advertising (i.e. musk[.]plus, musk[.]fund, musk[.]plus, and spacex[.]plus), which instruct visitors to send .1 or 3 BTC to a specific address in order to get back 1-30 times in bitcoins.
“To verify your address, send from 0.1 to 3 BTC to the address below and get from 1 to 30 BTC back!
BONUS: Addresses with 0.30 BTC or more sent, gets additional +200% back!
You can send BTC to the following address.
Waiting for your payment…
As soon as we receive your transaction, the outgoing transaction will be processed to your address.”
Dozens of people sent the minimum 0.1 bitcoins, but some naive users sent as much as from 0.5, up to 0.9995 bitcoins (roughly $6,000).
Twitter does not comment on individual accounts, but shared the following statement:
“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.”