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Online scams through fake Elon Musk accounts have stolen over $2 million in cryptocurrency since October

Several accounts impersonating Elon Musk on social media have managed to scam people out of their cryptocurrency holdings in the recent past.

twitter-logoSarthak Dogra | May 18, 2021 | Updated 15:02 IST
(Image: Twitter, Reuters)

Highlights

  • Online scammers are impersonating celebrities on social media platforms to target victims into their scams.
  • The scams ask people to transfer their cryptocurrency holdings to a particular wallet address, promising double returns in the future.
  • Nearly 7,000 people in the US have reported losing their cryptocurrency holdings to these scams since last October.

Just scrolling through Twitter one fine morning, I observed one of my tweets had received a like by none other than Elon Musk. Or so it seemed, as this was just an account of a friend who was taken over by scammers to propel their cryptocurrency scams. Thankfully, the friend was able to recover the account and delete the posts soon after.

So why did the scammers change the account details? Impersonating noted figures online has often been a way to dupe people into tricks. Since the account closely resembled that of Elon Musk after the hack, there was a chance that people visiting it online would have fallen for the deception.

A recent report reveals that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is one of the most impersonated celebrities in these regards in recent times.

In figures, such social media accounts impersonating Musk have helped scammers garner over $2 million in cryptocurrency over the last six months. The numbers have been shared by the US Federal Trade Commission in a report published on Monday.

These scammers either create a fraud account or take over an existing account and alter it to look like an official social media presence of a celebrity. They then push out their scams on social media, so people are easily duped to believe these as a legit proposal by their favourite celebrity.

Musk has gained a reputation for himself in the cryptocurrency world with his active involvements in several crypto-related projects. The scammers targeting cryptocurrency investors hence try to use his identity on social media more often than of other celebs.

The scams then pushed out through the compromised account ask the followers of the account to transfer their cryptocurrency funds to the scammer's crypto wallet on the promise of doubling or multiplying it in a few days.

Needless to point out, once a victim falls into their trap, their money is gone forever as the scammers disappear from the targeted account.

The report by FTC highlights the scale of these scams. As per the report, nearly 7,000 people in the US have reported losing their cryptocurrency holdings to these scams since last October. The report points out that this is more than a ten-fold increase year-over-year.

FTC warned users of falling for any such scams online. In essence, if any such online requests ask you to transfer your cryptocurrency in the promise of generating you money in any way, they are scams.

It mentioned how users could beware of such scams by researching any way of investing their cryptocurrency holdings. Before investing, they should check out details like the name of the company and the cryptocurrency name and search them with words like "review," "scam," or "complaint." Almost every time, such scams will not have a legit detail of these queries.

Also read: | Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hails Bitcoin, says it changes everything for the better

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