Verified Twitter accounts were hacked yesterday by scammers who masqueraded as billionaire Elon Musk in an attempt to persuade users to part with bitcoins.
Fashion firm Matalan, film distributor Pathe UK and Panthoen Books, a publishing house, were all hacked by scammers who proceeded to use promoted tweets to send their adverts out far and wide.
While the accounts’ handles remained unchanged, their pictures were changed and the display names were changed to ‘Elon Musk’ in a bid to trick Twitter users who follow the Tesla founder online.
Ooooof! @matalan's twitter account gets hacked, turned into an E/l/o/n M/u/s/k b/i/t/c/o/i/n scam. Looks like it took under an hour to rebrand and start a promoted Tweet campaign. pic.twitter.com/jyTAuvWYiB
— Alex Wybraniec (@invisiblea) November 5, 2018
The accounts then tweeted that Musk had decided to “make the biggest crypto-giveaway in the world, for all my readers who use Bitcoin”.
More than 300 people were successfully tricked, losing around £120,000, according to Crypto News Review.
While it’s far from the first time that scammers have promoted crypto tricks under Musk’s name, it is the first time that prominent accounts with blue ticks have been targeted, presumably to add legitimacy to the attempt.
However, this was undermined by basic spelling errors that have become the hallmark of so-called phishing attempts, where hackers try to trick targets into parting with money or data.
The hacked accounts called bitcoin “Bitcoic” and thank users for their “suppoot”.
But clicking on the scam’s links directs the victims to a page where they were asked to send between 0.1 and one bitcoin to the scammers supposedly in exchange for up to 10 bitcoins in return.
Pathe later said its account was hacked “by an unknown third party”, saying the issue had since been resolved.
A spokesperson for Twitter told the Telegraph: “Impersonating another individual to deceive users is a clear violation of the Twitter rules.
“Twitter has also substantially improved how we tackle cryptocurrency scams on the platform. In recent weeks, user impressions have fallen by a multiple of 10 in recent weeks as we continue to invest in more proactive tools to detect spammy and malicious activity. This is a significant improvement on previous action rates.”