Twitter Promoted a Fake Elon Musk Crypto Giveaway Scam

Stan Higgins
Oct 11, 2018 at 14:09 UTC
Updated Oct 11, 2018 at 18:28 UTC
news

A verified Twitter account masquerading as Elon Musk was used to publish and circulate a promoted tweet for a crypto giveaway scam Thursday morning.

The since-deleted tweet was posted through the account @TylerFlorence, which as of press time is still accessible. A link posted to the tweet directs to a giveaway site (which CoinDesk is not linking), prompting users to “sеnd frоm 0.2 to 5 BTC tо the address bеlow and gеt frоm 1 to 100 ВTC back!”

The news triggered an outcry from users who saw the tweet, renewing scrutiny of the social media platform’s anti-scam practices.

The incident is notable given that it involved a verified account but also that the scam information was circulated by way of a promoted tweet. Promoted tweets are paid for and are generally used by advertisers to reach a wider audience than they normally would through their existing network of followers, taking advantage of search trends (in this case, the public interest around the controversial Tesla CEO) to boost performance and visibility.

Twitter has long faced criticism for the prevalence of giveaway scams. Indeed, Elon Musk’s identity has been used in the past by other would-be scammers hoping to parlay Musk’s popularity in order to trick users into thinking that he is, in fact, giving away cryptocurrency.

In August, a group of researchers published evidence of a massive botnet fueling crypto scams on Twitter, utilizing fake accounts to give the appearance that real people were interacting with the giveaway organizers.

It’s an issue that Musk himself is fully aware of, having posted about the issue last month. At the time, he sought help from crypto-community members, including dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer, in an effort to block the scam solicitations from his feed.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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