Social engineering is the most time-tested and reliable tool in a hacker’s arsenal. From the time when phone phreaking was at its height, to the present-day ransomware bait-and-switch, people are the most vulnerable target for manipulation at the hands of a skilled social engineer. With the advent of social media, and more importantly the high-profile celebrities who utilize it, the Internet has entered into a new age ripe with options for ripping people off. Impersonating celebrities on social media is nothing new, but scammers are finding new ways to employ the tactic and social engineer a decent payday. It is this reality that some gullible folks have to contend with following a massive scam involving the cryptocurrency Ethereum. The scam in question involved fake accounts on Twitter of various tech industry juggernauts, like Elon Musk and John McAfee, sending the following message with only slight variations in amounts:
We are donating 200 Ethereum to the ETH community! First 50 transactions with 0.2 ETH sent to the address below will receive 2.0 ETH in the address the 0.2 ETH came from.
As reported by Catalin Cimpanu of Bleeping Computer, the scam has been going on for weeks but had its most successful time between Feb. 6 and Feb. 7. In fact, the scam had been unsuccessful up until this point — until the following occurred:
According to our calculations, crooks tricked users into sending over more than 7.69 Ethereum, worth around $6,400 at the time of writing. The sum could be actually higher if we take into account that we missed many Ethereum wallets that were advertised via now-suspended Twitter accounts.
Researchers aren’t entirely sure what caused the massive upturn in success for the scammers, but the prevailing theory is that the Elon Musk imposter accounted for a great deal of the sudden Ethereum payouts. The reasoning for this has to do with the recent media frenzy surrounding SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch. While this is just a theory, there doesn’t seem to be much else to go on at this point.
Regardless of the reason, people fell for a scam that should have been easily avoided. With the “virtual gold rush” of cryptocurrency occurring, it is inevitable that individuals will take major risks with hopes of cashing in. As long as there is a sucker to fall for a scam, I cannot see how this will end anytime soon.
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