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Cyber criminals use Elon Musk’s name in a giveaway scam

Cybercriminals used name-dropping Bitcoin vanity addresses to steal $2 million in two months

Bitcoin cryptocurrency mining

Cyber criminals are back to their old tricks, according to Cyware, and have been discovered encouraging users to send them Bitcoin with the promise to return double the amount to them as part of a giveaway.

This time around, though, cyber criminals are using Elon Musk to dupe their victims into handing over their bitcoin. Over the past two months, these savvy scammers have reportedly made more than $2 million.

The scammers are using Bitcoin vanity addresses like "1ELonMUsKZzpVr5Xok8abiXhhqGbdrnK5C” to make their scam appear credible. The vanity URLs were shared via YouTube live streams as giveaway scams.

Scammers commandeered YouTube channels Juice TV, Right Human and MaximSakulevich as part of the scam and renamed them “SpaceX Live” or “SpaceX” to promote the phoney giveaways.

Per Justin Lister, CEO of cyber-security firm Adaptiv, 67 Bitcoin vanity addresses have been associated with the scams. 

Elon Musk’s name has been used to lure unsuspecting victims before. In August 2018, a hacker broke into a verified Twitter account and rebranded it as Musk’s account. After doing so, the hacker posted fake tweets promising free bitcoin and Ethereum giveaways. Musk had over 22 million followers at the time. Similar incidents took place in November 2018 and June 2019.

In June 2018, scammers used Musk’s name on Twitter to siphon off 8,148 Ether, which was valued at $4.3 million. The scam included fake Twitter accounts attributed to popular celebrities like Musk and promised sizable giveaway returns.

Cyber criminals have used giveaways to lure their victims for years. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms have all experienced such scams. To prevent yourself from falling for these too-good-to-be-true offers, we recommend confirming an account holder’s identity before participating in a cryptocurrency giveaway.

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