They say fame is a double-edged sword. With all the limelight you are going to get some unsavoury attention too. Elon Musk knows this now as he’s embroiled in a strange new cryptocurrency scam on Twitter.
For the past few weeks, scam accounts have been using Twitter handles with names close enough to Elon Musk to fool unsuspecting Twitter users. These accounts also have the same profile picture that Musk has used. While they don’t have the verified badge, it can fool someone who may have heard of Musk but doesn’t know much about Twitter. Some examples of the handles are @elon_musk_, @elonmursk, @alonmusk, @elonmursk, etc. But since the name clearly says ‘Elon Musk’, it’s enough to convince some unsuspecting users that the account is legitimate.
It’s easy to see why people might get scammed by this. Musk’s popularity grows by the month, especially with more and more SpaceX projects going live. The man who has been described as Tony Stark is an easy starting point for scammers. Their cover? Elon Musk being in a philanthropic/jubilant mood, and as such, wanting to reward his followers with some crypto cash. Here’s a sample:
But that’s not all. In a bid to boost the authenticity of their fraud, the scammers followed Musk, and replied to his previous message in a contextual tone to make their offering appear like the real deal. Terms like celebrating or commemorating the launch of certain satellites by SpaceX are a recurring element.
The whole premise of Musk giving away Ethereum to celebrate an achievement is far-fetched, but it can fool the gullible since it can be seen as a billionaire being generous.
Similar tweets and replies in the name of Elon Musk have been appearing all over the social media platform. To further silence the alarms of suspicion, the scammers even created accounts of fake beneficiaries, who have received hefty returns after transferring their cryptocurrency to a particular Ethereum address.
heya. received mine ETH fair and square. Elon, please hold such giveaways everyday!
— Gregory Finch (@wayra_gregory) February 24, 2018
Your giveaways are the best of the bunch. I can probably do this a couple of times, will try.
— joel hardin (@joelver1978) February 24, 2018
Thank you Elon! Just received 5 eth – awesome! Please Hold these promos once a week!
— Oren Petty (@orennhal1976) February 24, 2018
Moreover, to further calm the suspicion of users, the scammers created a fake webpage which showed a large number of active Ethereum transactions on the address mentioned in the fake tweet. The link posted in such fraudulent tweets directed users to the same Ethereum transaction page in order to further quash any suspicion.
Naturally followers of Musk and other Twitter users have been urging Twitter’s team to check and stop this scam.
Why is this allowed to be a recurring problem? There is no excuse for making it so easy for the scammers to impersonate VIPs — they are not even changing the name or the photograph! In the era of advanced AI, is Twitter not capable of doing a simple string match? pic.twitter.com/y7y1xMdEz3
— How does it work (@generuso) February 22, 2018
BuzzFeed News reporter Ryan Mac said he informed Twitter to act against the scammers, but that was not enough to stop all the scam tweets.
Twitter shut down some of the accounts we brought to their attention, but seem to have no interest in being proactive about this matter. These accounts took me less than a minute to find using the search function and some key terms.
— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) February 12, 2018
Musk’s fame is just one factor; the scam has a high chance of working due to the rapid surge in popularity of Ethereum. Ethereum continues to surge, despite its comparatively lower trade value, and is largely seen as a stabler alternative to Bitcoin.
Of course, Musk is well-aware of the situation and how his name is being misused.
Not sure. I let @jack know, but it’s still going. I literally own zero cryptocurrency, apart from .25 BTC that a friend sent me many years ago.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 22, 2018
The Tesla chief further revealed that apart from a .25 BTC, he owns no crypto money at all.
Twitter had acted recently against accounts which were using verified badges to scam cryptocurrency enthusiasts. But it’s not yet taken any decisive action against the wannabe-Musks shilling cryptocurrency.