Twitter has been embroiled in a number of cryptocurrency scams in recent months, with the latest involving Bloomberg journalists Lily Katz and Olga Kharif.
The two report that in the first three weeks of May this year, fraudsters copied a large amount of information from their pages, along with their profile photos, and used this to promote ether scams to their 17,000 followers.
As if this wasn’t not bad enough, Ms Katz and Ms Kharif have stated that despite multiple requests to Twitter to have their doppelgangers removed, at least one remains, still pushing their fraudulent deals to the platform’s users.
These bot-driven fakes typically work by targeting individuals and companies, as in the case of the two Bloomberg employees. Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, explains:
“Setting up a bot is easy-peasy. The sign up probably takes longer than the programming.”
Ms Katz was targeted first, with her imposter, @LilyKatz5, tweeting to her followers with the promise of up to 100 ether for anyone who transferred even a small amount of cryptocurrency to them.
Although Twitter did shut down the account once Ms Katz had uploaded a photo of her passport as proof of her legitimacy, another fraudster impersonated her just two weeks later, using the journalist’s name and photo to spam her followers with more false pledges of ether.
This resulted in 10 separate transactions of the cryptocurrency to an account linked to Twitter handle @subidetu4629 over the space of a fortnight.
Ms Kharif discovered that she was also being impersonated on the 10th May. Despite twice notifying Twitter of the issue, no action was taken as the journalist refused to share her personal documents online due to privacy concerns. The website took this inability to prove her identity as an excuse not to take action, allowing the fraudster to remain active.
The Bloomberg journalists are not the first to have been targeted by these fraudulent bots, with both Elon Musk and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin already having fallen victim. As Luke McNamara, a principal analyst at FireEye Inc. explains:
“This is a space where individuals are responsible for their own security. That’s why we’ve seen so many bad actors gravitating into [it].”
Twitter maintains that it’s aware of the problem and is doing its best to fix it, with its chief executive officer Jack Dorsey promising that the company is “trying to fight scams”. The social media platform has notably banned cryptocurrency-related ads earlier this year, although Dorsey himself believs bitcoin will be the world's "single currency" by 2028 .
Featured image credit: Max Pixel