The Twitter accounts of multiple high-profile individuals, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and rapper Kanye West, have seemingly been compromised as part of an apparent bitcoin scam.
Those accounts, in addition to others, have been sending out tweets asking for bitcoin donations in exchange for a rapid return on investment.
For example, Kanye West’s account tweeted: “I am giving back to my community due to COVID-19. All bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled.”
According to The Verge, corporate accounts for Apple and Uber also appear to have been targeted, “suggesting that someone has either found a severe security loophole in Twitter’s login process or has gained access to a Twitter employee’s admin privileges.”
Reports indicate that the Twitter accounts of former President Obama, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have also been affected.
It looks like Joe Biden was also hacked… pic.twitter.com/621SliPEiA
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) July 15, 2020
A spokesperson for the Biden campaign told CNN: “Twitter locked down the account immediately following the breach and removed the related tweet. We remain in touch with Twitter on the matter.”
Twitter has since stated that they are “aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter,” and said that some people may not be able to tweet while they “review and address this incident.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the social media company started “limiting posts from verified accounts with the blue check marks, which Twitter generally designates for more prominent users,” around 3pm PST.
You may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020
According to Wired, the apparent hackers started posting from the accounts of cryptocurrency-related public figures before moving on to more mainstream targets, some with tens of millions of followers each. While some accounts only posted the message once, others accounts reposted the message, or a variation of it, even after the first message had been deleted.
“These scams work because of a gambling mentality—give a little bit of money, get a lot of money,” Ronnie Tokazowski, an email security researcher at Agari, told Wired. “Just the idea of risk versus reward. It’s especially dangerous right now because so many people are struggling.”
The L.A. Times reports “the bitcoin address tweeted by the hackers has been sent over 12 Bitcoins, worth more than $110,000. It appeared that popular Bitcoin exchange Coinbase blocked its users from sending money to the address.”