Twitter Hack: Chainalysis and CipherTrace Confirm FBI Investigation

The FBI is investigating Wednesday’s Twitter hack, Chainalysis and CipherTrace confirm.

Jul 16, 2020 at 8:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:32 a.m. UTC

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is looking into Wednesday’s massive Twitter hack, which saw dozens of accounts belonging to prominent figures and crypto exchanges compromised to shill a sketchy crypto scam.

The takeover saw some $120,000 in bitcoin flow through the address in question, though it remains unclear if that is the total figure sent by victims or if the perpetrator(s) laundered funds through the address themselves. What is clear is that Twitter suffered an unprecedented security breach, one that impacted a former U.S. president, multiple billionaires and the foremost crypto news organization. 

Click here for CoinDesk’s full coverage of the Twitter hack.

CipherTrace and Chainalysis, two blockchain forensics firms, both confirmed that federal investigators have contacted them. Neither firm was able to disclose additional information; Chainalysis said it had “been contacted by several agencies,” while CipherTrace could only say that "several law enforcement agencies" had reached out.

Elliptic, another firm, told CoinDesk it does not disclose its law enforcement interactions. Neither the FBI nor the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) returned requests for comment by press time.

U.S. anti-money laundering watchdog Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) warned financial institutions to watch out for Twitter scams in the wake of the hack. 

“FinCEN is working closely with law enforcement agencies to identify the source of these scams and disrupt them,” it said Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the FBI’s interest in the case.

Chainalysis and Elliptic both told CoinDesk the stolen funds are already “on the move.” Chainalysis also disclosed the hackers sloshed their funds between wallets to inflate the scam’s apparent success.

UPDATE (7/17/20 16:46 UTC): This article has been updated to show that CipherTrace has been contacted by "several" law enforcement agencies, not specifically the FBI.

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