Hackers Impersonate Elon Musk Using Verified Twitter Accounts to Spread Bitcoin Scam

Lloyd Doyle
November 7, 2018

British fashion retailer Matalan, film distributor Pathe UK and USA publisher Pantheon Books were among those whose accounts were taken over by scam artists, the BBC reported on Monday.

The pictures and official names of the accounts, which together boast 100,000 followers, were changed to support the scam.

Twitter doesn't enforce two-factor authentication (2FA) on verified accounts, but recommends it as a precaution for users. The message, situated above the QR code and Bitcoin address, was presumably recognizable to astute crypto investors/savants, as it claimed that Musk would return 10x on the victim's "investment" - obviously a too good to be true opportunity.

The post claimed that Mr Musk was leaving Tesla, the electric auto manufacturer, and was giving away free Bitcoin, a form of digital currency.

The scam itself was the usual bait of "send some Bitcoin i'll send even more back" - which from a verified account or not - is always an obvious scam.


The incident raises questions over the security of the social network - and the speed with which it responds to data breaches. "Twitter has also substantially improved how we tackle cryptocurrency scams on the platform", a Twitter spokesperson told ZDNet.

Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley told Quartz in an email, "In recent weeks, impressions have fallen by a multiple of 10 as we continue to invest in more proactive tools to detect spammy and malicious activity. This is a significant improvement on previous action rates", they added. Another indicator is that there are a few spelling mistakes within the tweet which suggests a compromised account.

SEE: What is phishing? They didn't confirm if the account was using 2FA prior to the attack. ZDNet contacted Matalan but hadn't received a reply at the time of writing. Still, this seems to have done little, similar to Twitter's rule about changing your name to Musk's.

After Twitter reportedly restricted (and banned) numerous accounts sharing the likeness of Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, one of the social media platform's foremost stars, reports have arisen that claim that the world-renowned entrepreneur has been impersonated yet again, this time in a context pertaining to Bitcoin (BTC). The same type of campaign has also seen attackers pose as other high-profile individuals and companies.

Recently, however, these scams have ventured outside of Musk's mentions and into timelines.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER