As the price of Bitcoin goes up, so too do the Crypto Twitter scams, according to a new report by MyCrypto cybersecurity researcher Harry Denley. And the accounts associated with the scams have apparently swindled their victims out of some $150,000 worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Looking at some 333 Twitter users, 327 tweets and 425 tweeted images, Denley found a 95 percent increase over the past year in signups of shady accounts hawking fake bitcoin and ethereum giveaways to gullibles.
You’ve probably seen these scams clotting your news feed. In the comments beneath almost every tweet by a prominent crypto twitterer is a “user” proclaiming the apparent largesse of a major crypto figure—with Coinbase, Binance and Vitalik Buterin featuring most prominently—promising x amount of Bitcoin to those willing to cough up one or two bitcoins beforehand.
The OG scammers used to hijack known, but lesser, verified accounts and change their names to whomever needed impersonating, all while keeping that blue tick. This caused venerable crypto figures to append things like “non-giver of ether” to their names. But these new scammers are spookier: now they hijack accounts long abandoned by their original hosts, and take them over as scam-peddling parasites.
Case in point: Denley discovered two of the most prolific scammers to be @AgamYogi, an apparent Industrial Engineer from Jakarta, Indonesia, and @megandaisy98, a woman whose last normal tweet was in 2018. (It was laughing at a relatable meme.) The rest, presumably, are bot accounts, which play on both sides: proliferating the scams and commenting on the scams, praising them as legitimate.
The tweets—which are almost always screenshots, since they’re harder to track—generally contain links to websites with linked Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses. There are 52 such “fake domains,” writes Denley, 64 percent of which are hosted in the U.S. And from an analysis of each address linked, Denley found that the Bitcoin addresses have taken in some 11.789 BTC (approximately $138,000), and the Ethereum addresses have taken in some 42.310 ETH (approximately $9,500).
The success of the fake Coinbase pitch, Denley surmises, might have something to do with Coinbase’s Earn program, which does actually pay users in cryptocurrency for completing various tasks.