Bitcoin Celebrity Impersonation Scam Hits Twitter: Bitcoin scammers are impersonating famous celebrities like Elon Musk and Donald Trump on Twitter to dupe people into sending small crypto donations in exchange for thousands.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, dating back to the infamous emails from supposed Nigerian princes who beg for a small amount of money, promising millions in return.
Even though there are as many twists to the story as there are scammers, they would basically request for minimal assistance of an urgent and private nature in exchange for an exaggerated fee.
Old Trick, New Twist
In the same vein, the Twitter scammers require modest donations and promise massive rewards to the quickest respondents. They are duped into believing that they are taking part in a worthwhile fundraiser with the possibility of winning big.
Even though the scam may seem simplistic, reports show that these con artists have managed to make thousands of dollars within a single week. The scam first hit the limelight on February 1 and has seen multiple accounts of various celebrities mushroom on Twitter.
Some of the popular names include John Mc.Afee, the software tycoon, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, and the Tesla founder Elon Musk and even Donald Trump. Even though many of the fake accounts have been suspended, the rate at which new ones come up is astounding.
Twitter is the favorite platform for perpetrators due to the absence of substantial identity verification for the creation of accounts. It also has a much higher turnaround timespan than most other social networking sites.
According to a report by Josh Emerson, at some point there were more than 1,200 bots that were amplifying fake tweets from Elon Musk with regards to the crypto scam. These bots basically operate by giving a response to an original tweet from a verified account holder and this seems like a genuine thread for interaction on the platform.
Easy Wins for Scammers
Some of the wallets set up by attackers seem to have a small stream of payments flowing into them, implying that not everyone knows to avoid such scams. One John McAfee tweet offered as much as 20 bitcoins for every donation of 0.02 bitcoins and surprisingly managed to raise 0.184 bitcoins in a matter of hours.
According to Marie Vasek, an associate professor involved in studying bitcoin scams, “People actually do fall for this, and sometimes, they fall for it twice.”
She explains that what makes the scam so appealing is that once an individual sends bitcoins, they cannot retrieve them from the recipient.
There are web developers who are working on systems designed to identify such scams. The EtherSecurityLookup is one such chrome extension developed by Harry Denley. It compares existing Twitter accounts with a whitelist of confirmed legitimate accounts for crypto community members and flags suspicious ones.
Unfortunately, such easy scams are hard to eliminate completely as they take very little to execute and still yield a significant return on investment. As Josh Emerson explains, the rate at which they are making bots is higher than the rate at which Twitter can ban them.