The official Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Elon Musk and many other high-profile people and companies became victims Wednesday in one of the most visible cyberscams in the internet’s history.
Suspected Bitcoin scammers took control of accounts belonging to the rich and famous, as well as lower-profile accounts, for more than two hours during the afternoon and tricked at least a few hundred people into transferring the cryptocurrency.
A tweet typical of the attack, sent from the account of Bill Gates, the software mogul who is the world’s second-wealthiest person, promised to double all payments sent to his Bitcoin address for the next 30 minutes.
Within minutes, innocent people had sent their hard-earned money to the corrupt persons and posted screenshot evidence awaiting their returns.
The bitcoin address linked in the tweets posted to Gates’s and Musk’s account was quickly overwhelmed with more than 200 instances of people sending it money, totalling more than $50,000.
People on Twitter called out the Gates tweet, and others like it from other accounts, as obvious scams.
Similar tweets appeared on Musk’s account and on an account associated with Cash, an app for transferring money. The tweets were deleted after several minutes.
Twitter spokeswoman Aly Pavela said the company was looking into the issue and would have more to say later.
Some of the accounts have huge followings. Gates has 51.1 million Twitter followers, while tech executive Musk has 36.9 million. Apple’s has 4.5 million.
Cryptocurrency investors and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss said from their Twitter accounts that they believed all major Twitter accounts in the industry had been compromised and were tweeting about a fake partnership.