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Verified Elon Musk impersonator hitches a ride on Trump’s viral COVID-19 tweet for bitcoin scam

Hackers appear to have once again hijacked high-profile Twitter accounts to promote bitcoin scams, this time responding to Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.

Verified Elon Musk impersonator hitches a ride on Trump’s viral COVID-19 tweet for bitcoin scam
[Photo: Flickr user Daniel Oberhaus]

Once again, hackers appear to have hijacked verified high-profile Twitter accounts to promote a bitcoin scam, this time impersonating Elon Musk and responding to President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

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Using an account belonging to Cincinnati Bengals player Jonah Williams but altered to appear to belong to Musk, one account tweeted in response to Trump’s announcement of his positive test—saying “We are ready to help” while posting a link to a scam where people are urged to send five bitcoin to receive a Tesla Model S.

[Screenshot via Twitter]
In another example, an account belonging to Canadian Olympic runner Nicole Sifuentes responds to a SpaceX post announcing a launch to promote the same scam. In an Instagram post, Sifuentes said that her account was hacked about a month ago and that Twitter has yet to respond.

In an email to Fast Company, a Twitter spokesperson wrote, “I can confirm that we’ve locked these accounts as a precaution and are looking into this further.”

As a number of news outlets reported this morning, Trump’s COVID-19 tweet was his most shared ever, making it the perfect vehicle through which to spread a message by commenting underneath it.

The fake Musk posts come after a high-profile hack this summer where major verified accounts were subverted to tweet scam links, leading verified accounts to briefly be unable to post to Twitter. At the time, CEO Jack Dorsey vowed to maintain transparency about the company’s investigation.

This post has been updated with new information about Twitter’s response.

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About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.

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