A common trend can be observed, where scammers and hackers are trying to impersonate CEOs or official social media accounts so they can steal people’s money. These types of scams are called crypto-scams and are “common” these days on social media like Twitter. Scammers are becoming increasingly creative with the execution, because of the shear profitability of a successfully pulled scam.
How do they do it?
Often, scammers are going to Twitter or Facebook, where they try to copy and impersonate the social media accounts of major players from the cryptocurrency industry. Usually, they offer giveaways that are obviously too good to be true and a comment section that is full of positive comments and people that “allegedly” claimed their rewards. As someone with experience in the cryptocurrency industry, I’ve read about many similar scams that happened over the years.
An example is January, 2018. Many scammers tried to impersonate Charlie Lee’s Twitter account, the creator of Litecoin. Most of these imposters had created their own Twitter accounts that looked exactly like Charlie Lee’s Twitter page, but were named slightly different. These scammers promoted giveaways that required you to donate Litecoin to enter the giveaway or the first to send a small amount to this wallet will receive free Litecoin. Naïve people fell for it and later discovered that they were scammed.
But it’s most impressive when hackers pull these scams by hacking official social media accounts and posting the “giveaways” from there. Another example is the impersonation of Telegram’s CEO, Pavel Durov that happened April. Scammers took a verified Twitter account and changed everything to look exactly like Pavel Durov’s account. This includes information, profile picture and name. The goal was to trick unsuspecting Twitter users into believing that there is a real “giveaway”.
The fake announcement was promoting a giveaway of 1000 Bitcoin and 5000 Ethereum with links to phishing sites with the scammers’ cryptocurrency wallets. Again there were people that fell for it, without even noticing that the account was only verified, but it wasn’t Pavel Durov’s real user name. This leads us to this week, where a similar thing happened, but this time hackers were more creative than the previous times.
Fail of the week. Vertcoin Twitter account hacked
We are starting a weekly series called Fail of the week, where we will feature big or small fails and the lessons that can be learned from them. On our first week we will feature a fail that happened earlier this week. I am talking about Vertcoin’s official Twitter account getting hacked. If you don’t know, Vertcoin is a “decentralized currency that is owned by its users” and uses proof-of-work to reach consensus.
Well on May 1st, the official Twitter account made a post about a giveaway to celebrate the community’s support and the projects accomplishments. The post stated that 10 Bitcoin would be transferred to the winner of the giveaway. The curious thing was that to enter the giveaway, you needed to deposit 0.005 BTC to a specific wallet address.
“Her, guys! Vertcoin and staff are pleased to announce that we are making a giveaway for 10 BTC to our supporters to celebrate Vercoin’s success. Send 0.005 to 3HU5sj7kB6wT9zRwpbhCRrR28vKWjfkMKf to enter! Winner will be chosen on 5.3.2018 at 8pm EST.”
Surprise, surprise, it turned out, that hackers took hold of Vertcoin’s official account to carry out the “giveaway” that was a disguised Bitcoin scam. We have to give credit to Vercoin, because they reacted immediately. The company’s leading developer, James Lovejoy issued a warning on his official Twitter account, that the official Vertcoin Twitter was hijacked and warned that all giveaways, especially those that are too good to be true, are fake.
— James Lovejoy (@jamesl22) May 1, 2018
This week’s fail goes equally to Vertcoin for letting this happen, but also to all the naive people that fell for it. But a harsh lesson was learned by these people that can save a lot of their money in the future. Things that sound too good to be true, probably really are too good to be true. Also giveaways that require you to donate cryptocurrencies are shady at the least and we should always be skeptical when we encounter them.
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