Hackers Are Taking Over Verified Twitter Accounts to Impersonate Elon Musk and Steal Bitcoins

Justine Pope
  • 5 Nov 2018
  • A new phishing scheme is growing on Twitter, where hackers steal verified Twitter accounts and pretend to be celebrities in order to steal cryptocurrencies.
  • Their most recent scam has received $39,000 while impersonating Tesla founder, Elon Musk.

Despite the bear market for cryptocurrencies dragging on, malicious actors are still pulling out every trick in the book to scam people on Twitter. Previously, scammers would copy someone’s profile picture and name, then comment below the person’s tweet that they were “GIVING AWAY ETH!” Now, the scammers have upgraded. To trick people into believing they’re legitimate, scammers are hacking verified accounts and using these accounts to troll the comments of famous Twitter accounts. Most recently, Elon Musk.

The hacker’s plan is simple. Take over a verified account, switch the profile picture to the mirror the celebrity, then tweet out the scam, so people think it’s actually Musk tweeting. Elon Musk, whose handle is @elonmusk, is no newcomer to ETH scam bots, but this recent wave of scams takes things to a new level. The tweets have been deleted, and the accounts have been given back to their rightful owners, but thankfully they were screenshotted by Larry Cermak on Twitter:

 

Fake Elon Musk Tweet

In this Tweet, you’ll notice that they’re offering free Bitcoin for anyone who sends Bitcoin to the address above. Newcomers to cryptocurrency, who don’t know that Bitcoin transactions are irreversible, often send BTC to this address in hopes of free money. If you think, “no one would ever fall for that,” you’d be wrong. Anyone can look at the blockchain data and find that the address above has received about 6.12 BTC, or about $39,000. Not bad for a few hours of work.

What’s even worse is that this post is promoted. Looking at the bottom left corner of the tweet, the “Promoted” sticker means that the post is being advertised on Twitter. This makes the case more interesting, as promoted posts are usually vetted and approved before posting. However, in this case, Twitter is allowing the hackers to post this blatant scam with no repercussions. The post is so popular that it’s got over 400 likes.

A common misconception is that the hackers are buying these verified accounts and using them to phish for scamming victims. However, this example shows that the hackers are in fact stealing Twitter accounts. In this case, the hackers are using Twitter account “@patheuk.”

This account is rightfully owned by English production company Pathe UK, and taking a look at their website shows that they own the handle @patheuk. We can also go to Pathe’s Twitter account today and see that they are posting film-related tweets, and not scams.

Scammers are nothing new to the cryptocurrency space. Over the past year, we’ve had automations and scambots plaguing our comment sections regularly. This new technique of hacking verified accounts shows that the scammers won’t stop, and will keep creating new techniques to rip off unsuspecting victims. Don’t become a casualty, and make sure you think twice before clicking on links or sending cryptocurrency.

 

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo by JD Lasica via Flickr; licensed under "CC BY 2.0"