Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are among several high profile individuals targeted by hackers on Twitter in an apparent Bitcoin scam.
The official accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West have also requested donations in the cryptocurrency.
“Everyone’s asking me to give back, and now’s the time,” said a tweet from Mr. Gates’ account. “You send $ 1,000, I send you back $ 2,000. ”
The tweets were deleted just minutes after their first posting.
All verified Twitter accounts marked with a blue checkmark have now been prevented from posting tweets, and reports indicate that password reset requests are also denied.
Twitter has said it is investigating the incident and will soon issue a statement.
On the official account of Mr. Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX seemed to offer to double any Bitcoin payment sent to the address of his digital wallet “for the next hour”.
“I feel generous because of Covid-19,” added the tweet, along with a Bitcoin link address.
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As well as rapper Kanye West, former US President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, major corporations Uber and Apple Corporation have been targeted.
Unprecedented ‘smash and grab’ operation
By Joe Tidy, Cybersecurity Journalist
These “double your Bitcoin” scams have been a persistent pest on Twitter for years, but this is unprecedented with real accounts of public figures hijacked and on a large scale.
The fact that so many different users were compromised at the same time implies that this is a problem with the Twitter platform itself.
The first suggestions are that someone has managed to gain some sort of administrative privileges and bypass passwords for almost any account they want.
With so much power at hand, attackers could have done much more damage with more sophisticated tweets that could have damaged the reputation of an individual or an organization.
But the reason seems clear: to earn as much money as quickly as possible. Hackers would have known that the tweets would not stay in place for long, so it was the equivalent of a smash and grab operation.
There are conflicting accounts of the amount of money hackers have made and even when a figure is established it is important to remember that cybercriminals are known to add their own funds to their Bitcoin wallets to make it more legitimate scam.
Either way, it will be very difficult to catch criminals by tracking money and law enforcement, as well as many angry users, will have strong questions for Twitter about how it could have been. happen.
Cameron Winklevoss, who along with his brother Tyler was declared the world’s first Bitcoin billionaire in 2017, tweeted a message on Wednesday warning people not to participate in the “scam”.
In the short time available online, the address displayed in the tweets has received hundreds of contributions totaling more than $ 100,000 (£ 80,000).
The targeted Twitter accounts all have millions of followers.