Technology entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk, popularly known for electric cars, reusable rockets, and PayPal, is increasingly seeing an uncanny association with Bitcoin for the wrong reasons. Scammers are capitalizing on Musk’s Twitter social media prominence to spin out hopes of cryptocurrency returns – with gains even more spectacular than the famed 2017-bull run.
Musk the New Nigerian Prince
Moving a step ahead of the casual giveaway tweet, scammers are purchasing verified twitter accounts and pretending to be Musk. The “blue tick” purportedly draws confidence from gullible investors looking to make a quick buck, which ends up in thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin transferred to accounts controlled by scammers.
Scammers are even investing money in promoting tweets on the micro-blogging giant, resulting in millions of people reached across the globe in the hopes of being on the receiving end of Musk’s philanthropic gesture. The procedure? Send in a tiny amount of BTC mentioned in an address on the tweet, and watch a hefty multiple of the money deposited in your account.
While such scams have been running for months – often with slight variations reminiscent of “Nigerian prince” confidence stories – industry observers are slamming Twitter for its incompetence in preventing such widespread scams on its portal; especially those involving verified accounts and resulting in huge funds being siphoned from victims.
In the latest attack, attackers were able to make away with $37,000 worth of BTC by promoting a tweet sent by a Musk-impersonating account. The fraud was first brought to light by a Reddit user, with comments mostly ranging from Twitter’s inability to handle the influx of Bitcoin scams and the foolishness of investors falling for the apparent theft.
Twitter’s Ineffectiveness to Handle Scams
Simple as it may seem – internally flag similar looking messages and tweets sent by multiple accounts – cyber experts think the problem is more complicated than an anti-spam security script running on Twitter’s backend. Jordan Wright, a principal engineer at Duo Security, has conducted extensive research into Twitter bots in 2018 and concluded that scam accounts have hundreds of supporting handles which like, retweet, comment, and provide credibility to the scam tweet.
Meanwhile, Twitter states protective measures are in place to prevent such misdoings. Wired reports anti-spam efforts have resulted in the number of cryptocurrency-related frauds to fall by a “multiple of ten,” which Twitter spokespersons believe is a “significant improvement on the previous action.”
Ironically, the efforts are proving to be almost too effective. Last week, Twitter temporarily banned the actual Elon Musk account after the entrepreneur joked about selling bitcoin. Furthermore, the firm has started blocking all accounts named “Elon Musk” – with latter efforts failing to prevent misdeeds from verified accounts.
Cover Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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