Bitcoin scammers targeted the Twitter accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Barack Obama and other famous tech executives, entertainers and politicians on Wednesday in what appears to be a large-scale hack. Apple, Uber and other businesses were also caught up in the sprawling attack.
Twitter accounts with millions of followers seemed to have been compromised, raising concerns about whether the company is doing enough to protect the security of its users. While cryptocurrency scams aren’t a new problem for Twitter, the size of Wednesday’s attack is unusual.
“I’m feeling generous because of Covid-19,” a now-deleted tweet from Musk’s account reads. “I’ll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!”
Similar tweets were sent through the Twitter account belonging to Gates, the billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder. “I am doubling all payments sent to my BTC address for the next 30 minutes. You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000,” the tweet, which was deleted, read.
The scam tweets would periodically vanish, only to reappear minutes later.
A spokesperson for Gates confirmed the tweet wasn’t sent by the billionaire.
“We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Obama’s account tweeted a similar message shared by Musk and Gates. In a tweet sent to his 120 million followers, Obama’s account tweeted that he was giving back because of the novel coronavirus and he would double all bitcoin sent to his address for the next 30 minutes.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the hack was conducted or how many accounts were impacted. Twitter said it was looking into the issue but couldn’t immediately provide information on how the accounts, which have tens of millions followers combined, were compromised. (For tips on how to secure your Twitter account, see this CNET story.)
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