The twitter accounts of affluent personalities including Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mike Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, and more got hacked on Wednesday. Accounts of U.S politicians such as Barack Obama and Joe Biden were also compromised as well as accounts of celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Wiz Khalifa, Youtube personality MrBeast, and accounts of major companies such as Apple, Uber, CashApp and in particular accounts related to cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Binance, Ripple, Gemini, CoinDesk among others. All the targeted accounts have a large number of followers ranging in the millions.
The same post was spread across all compromised twitter accounts. It was a well-known scam asking for payments to be made to a digital wallet to get them doubled back, for instance the post on Joe Biden’s account read “I am giving back to the community. All bitcoins sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes.”
The other tweets had a more or less similar message and have since been deleted. Initially the cryptocurrency accounts were hacked with the same message posted “We have partnered with CryptoForHealth and are giving back 5000 BTC to the community,” followed by a link to a domain that was swiftly taken down by the domain registrar Namesilo.
Twitter took action and all the posts have been deleted. The accounts seemed to have been restored, with Elon Musk’s account tweeting “hi”, but that also has since been deleted. Users with verified accounts upon trying to tweet saw an error message saying “This request looks like it might be automated. To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can’t complete this action right now. Please try again later.” Twitter’s support account also stated that users “may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident.”
As of the writing of this article some of the accounts seem to have returned to normal functioning with twitter support tweeting “Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.” and then later on adding, “We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.”
News of the scam quickly spread with many support staff and users taking action. World’s first Bitcoin billionaire, Cameron Winklevoss tweeted a warning, “This is a SCAM, DO NOT participate! This is the same attack/takeover that other major crypto twitter accounts are experiencing. Be vigilant! Situation is ongoing.”
The sudden widespread scope of the attack, however, was difficult to contain and BBC reported that “In the short time it was online, the link displayed in the tweets of targeted accounts received hundreds of contributions totaling more than $100,000 (£80,000), according to publicly available blockchain records.”