A Man Lost $560,000 In a Bitcoin Scam Involving a Fictitious Elon Musk Account – Hackers have devised elaborate methods to steal cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, due to the craze for these digital assets. Sebastian is the victim of a Twitter scam perpetrated by a fake account impersonating Elon Musk, who lost $560,000.
The victim told the BBC how he was duped by the Bitcoin scam, also known as a “gift scam.” Sebastian, a 42-year-old German, became involved after seeing a mysterious tweet from the tycoon.
“Musk tweeted ‘Dojo 4 Doge,’ and I was confused,” the man explained. “I noticed a link to a new event below and clicked on it, only to discover that it was giving away bitcoins!”
Like many other onlookers, Sebastian clicked on the link and was directed to a website that appeared to be legitimate. He discovered the Tesla team ran a countdown timer and a quiz, which he assumed. The dynamic involved sending 0.1 bitcoins (roughly 6,000 dollars) up to 20 bitcoins (approximately 1.2 million dollars), with the promise of doubling the amount at the end.
The man first invested in Bitcoin in 2017, purchasing 40,000 of the digital currency, and has watched its value skyrocket over the years. His ten bitcoins were worth about $560,000 at the time of the scam (about 11.5 million Mexican pesos).
Elon Musk decided to participate after double-checking the verification logo next to his name. “I thought to myself, ‘Take the maximum.’ “I sent ten (10) bitcoins because this is real,” Sebastian said.
And then came the disappointment
The man was ecstatic as he waited for the timer to reach zero, but the prize never arrived in his Bitcoin wallet.
“I realized it was a big lie at that point,” Sebastian continued, requesting that his real name not be used by the BBC. “My heart was pounding as I threw myself headfirst into the sofa cushions. I thought I’d just thrown away my family’s life preserver, my early retirement fund, and all of my children’s future vacations.”
Despite e-mails to the scammer’s website and tweets to the fake Elon Musk’s account, nothing could be done. Sebastian is almost resigned to the fact that his money is gone for good after three weeks.
Sebastian’sAccording to Whale Alert, ten bitcoins are the most ever lost in a single such transaction, an Amsterdam-based blockchain analytics firm.
Scams involving Bitcoin are on the rise
According to analysts, scam gangs made more than $18 million this way in the first quarter of 2021. This amount is higher than the $16 million they received in the entire year of 2020.
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In terms of the number of victims, approximately 10,500 people will fall victim to this type of fraud in 2020. However, there have already been 5,600 victims in 2021. (and counting).
While scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the one Sebastian fell for is one of the most common.
This entails creating Twitter accounts impersonating celebrities such as Elon Musk. Criminals have been known to use stolen accounts from well-known people that already have the “verified blue checkmark,” making them appear legitimate and trustworthy. Then they wait for the real accounts to respond with a tweet and a post inviting people to the scam, which appears to be made by the famous person in question.
Although Twitter is the most popular platform for “gift scams,” they can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and even WhatsApp.
The most well-known Bitcoins fraud occurred in July 2020, when hackers gained access to the Twitter accounts of celebrities such as Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, and Elon Musk. They then invited their millions of followers to send bitcoins in exchange for a double return. Cybercriminals stole more than $118,000 in Bitcoin, and three people were arrested as a result.