Elon Musk may be selling flamethrowers and shooting his car into space, but he’s definitely not giving away cryptocurrency.
A new scam has emerged involving the billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder that is alarmingly simple and seems to have been effective.
It involves tricking people into sending cryptocurrency to a well-known person in the hope that he or she will send back a whole lot more in an act of charitable benevolence.
The scammers create an account with a very similar username as the celebrity, in this case “elonlmusk”. They then use this account to reply to a tweet by the real Elon Musk, making it look like it is another tweet by the entrepreneurial celeb.
In reply to a Musk tweet about the successful Falcon rocket launch, the fake account replied with: “To celebrate this, I’m giving away 5,000 ETH to my followers! To participate, just send 0.5-1 ETH to the address below and get 5-10 ETH back to the address you used for the transaction”.
The link included takes you to a legitimate-looking page showing that transactions have taken place, but unfortunately it’s all fake.
But people appear to be falling for the simple scam, with the Ether account linked to the scam receiving more than $20,000 in cryptocurrency since the fake accounts were launch.
Musk is the perfect choice for the trick, with his history of outlandish stunts making it quite believable that he would just decide to give away some cryptocurrency.
To make things more believable, the scammers also appear to have created fake accounts claiming that they had received coins from Musk, with one tweeting: “Thank you so much Elon! Just sent 0.4 ETH and got 4 ETH within 6 minutes! You’re a great person! Keep it up”.
That account was created in January and has only tweeted the one time.
Several other accounts impersonating Musk have also popped up trying to do the same thing, including ‘elonnmuuusk’, which replied to a Donald Trump tweet praising the real Musk.
The scammers have also created fake accounts for the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to undertake the same trick.
In terms of the cryptocurrency scams it’s pretty small change though, with $230 million lost last year when a vulnerability in a Ether wallet provider was exploited.