Elon Musk impersonators at work again, hack accounts to promote Bitcoin scams


The newest interesting occurrence in the Twitter-verse has left users looking for an explanation.

For the scam, hackers used several accounts, including one of filmmaker Pathe UK and one of American politician Frank Pallone. The accounts were both verified, meaning Twitter users would be more likely to trust their tweets.

The BBC reports that high-profile Twitter users like British retailer Matalan, film distributor Pathe UK and even US-based Pantheon Books were hijacked to spread the online scam using Elon Musk's name, with a host of other stolen Twitter profiles adding legitimacy to the fake giveaway.

They then took advantage of the promoted tweets function that allows account holders to pay for tweets to appear prominently in people's Twitter feeds. They also announced that Elon Musk had organized the distribution of 10,000 bitcoins, in this case Bitcoic, and had published a link for those wishing to participate.

However, it's not possible to rule out that some of that 28 bitcoin were sent by the scammer or scammers themselves in order to make the scheme seem more viable.

A further message then asks users to send anywhere between 0.1 and 2 BTC to a payment address below to receive from 1 to 20 BTC in return.

The provided address leads users to a simple page that displays a bitcoin address, together with a convenient QR code.

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The next ingenious step was to hack more accounts with the signature blue tick of Twitter. The hacker managed to subtly change the "L" in Elon Musk's name to a different, yet similar character so the account would not be flagged and reported to Twitter's security team.

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.

He tweeted 'wanna buy some bitcoin?' with winky faced emojis and a Bitcoin cartoon as a joke. This was in response to the scams in place since March 2018.

It is, however, something rather amusing in the fact that they did decide to use Elon Musk for this. The hacked verified accounts have entered the game only recently.

"Twitter has also substantially improved how we tackle cryptocurrency scams on the platform".

Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley told Quartz in an email, "In recent weeks, impressions have fallen by a multiple of 10 as we continue to invest in more proactive tools to detect spammy and malicious activity".