Fake tweets from accounts of technology moguls, politicians, celebrities and major companies led to the accumulation of almost 12.9 bitcoins by the end of Wednesday. The amount is currently valued at slightly more than $114,000 (nearly ₹86 lakhs when converted to INR). The Bitcoin account mentioned in the fake tweets appears to have been created on Wednesday. At some point during the day, roughly half that sum in bitcoin was withdrawn from the account. The development came after unidentified hackers had broke into the Twitter accounts of several bigwigs, in what is being termed as an apparent Bitcoin scam.
The ruse included bogus tweets from former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked.
Bezos, Gates and Musk are among the 10 richest people in the world, with tens of millions of followers on Twitter. The three men are worth a combined $362 billion, according to the latest calculations by Forbes magazine.
The fake tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
How did hackers target Twitter users?
The fake posts appeared to lure Twitter users by sending money to an anonymous Bitcoin account. There is no confirmation on if the owners of these Twitter accounts were targeted themselves.
The apparently fake tweets were all quickly deleted, although The Associated Press was able to capture screenshots of several before they disappeared.
Among the political figures targeted, the hack mostly appeared to target Democrats or other figures on the left, drawing comparisons to the 2016 campaign.
US intelligence agencies established that Russia engaged in coordinated attempts to interfere in those US elections through social media tampering and various hacks, including targeting the various campaigns and major party organizations.
The hack might also be a simple demonstration of Twitter’s weak security controls as the U.S. heads into the 2020 presidential election, a contest in which the service is likely to play an influential role.
The FBI, meanwhile, said it was aware of Twitter’s security breach, but declined further comment.
In a tweet, Twitter noted that it was aware of a “security incident impacting accounts on Twitter.” The San Francisco company said it is investigating and promised an update shortly. It did not reply immediately to requests for comment.
The security problem was severe enough for Twitter to warn that many of its more than 166 million daily users might be unable to tweet or reset their passwords while the company tried to lock things down.