Bitcoin giveaway scams bearing the name of Tesla CEO and the founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk raked in more than $2 million in just the past two months.
While these giveaway scams have been around for over two years now, the latest ones involve the use of Bitcoin vanity addresses such as 1MuskPsV7BnuvMuHGWmmXUyXKjxp3vLZX6 or 1ELonMUsKZzpVr5Xok8abiXhhqGbdrnK5C to give credibility to the scam.
Justin Lister, CEO of cyber-security firm Adaptiv has been tracking these addresses that have been abusing Musk’s name over the past month with the help of BitcoinAbuse found that 67 of such addresses have scammed users.
These 67 addresses received about 214 BTC worth more than $2 million since they were created in late April 2020, reported ZDNet.
Most of these vanity URLs are shared with the help of YouTube live streams. Hackers hijack YouTube accounts with high follower count to change its name and graphics to mimic one of a trusted brand or a celebrity.
Hacked accounts are sold on hacking forums for an amount ranging from $5 to thousands, depending on the follower count.
Hackers renamed the channels to Elon Musk’s name, the SpaceX brand, or news outlets for credibility. Moreover, they are usually organized on the occasion of an important event in the particular celebrity or brand’s history such as SpaceX’s first successful rocket launch carrying a live NASA astronaut crew.
The scammer then basically asked users to send them BTC under the promise of doubling their profits. These scams have made as much as $180k in one day.
The bitcoin addresses where a user has to send the BTC was either embedded in the live stream and users had to scan it with a QR code reader or users were asked to visit a giveaway website.
Cryptocurrency giveaway scams have been around since about early 2018, the tricks are just getting newer and better.
Other vanity addresses were found in the name of Bill Gates and those addresses hold more than $100,000 in stolen funds.
These scams aren’t limited to YouTube either but are also running rampant on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and recently on TikTok.