Scammers have struck again, using a method that is fast becoming old — by impersonating Elon Musk on Twitter. On Wednesday, a post from an account pretending to be of the SpaceX CEO said he was giving away over $4 million worth of Ethereum to celebrate the launch of the company’s Starlink satellites.
But there was a catch to giving away all that precious cryptocurrency, which is where the scam kicked in. The scammer, who used the same profile picture that Musk uses for his official Twitter account (though there are small differences, if you look closely), created an account — @elonhmusk — which looks very similar to Musk’s. And the fake account that posted a tweet in reply to Musk’s, making it look like a tweet from Musk to anyone unfortunate enough to be gullible to a blatantly incredulous claim.
If someone sent their ethereum to the address in that tweet, it is certain they would never see it again, let alone the promised ten-fold instant return on investment. But then, there are so many red flags in that post that anyone who values their ethereum tokens would not actually send any money, unless they were blinded by their excitement and hopes of making a quick buck without doing anything.
If you got fooled by the similar looking pictures and handles, the tell-tale missing blue tick of verification is missing in the scammer’s account. And clicking on that profile shows a grand total of one tweet, and that the profile was created in January 2018. Then, there are problems with the content of the tweet itself.
For starters, there is the value of 5,000 ETH tokens, which given Wednesday’s closing price, would amount to almost $4.3 million. Musk is known for many things, and he could probably afford to give away a sum like that if he wanted to, but such bizarre philanthropy aimed at random strangers (some of whom maybe didn’t even need the philanthropy) to celebrate the launch of two communication satellites would perhaps be a stretch for anyone in their right mind.
Then, of course, there is the fact that the scammer is asking for ETH to be sent first, in order to receive the cryptocurrency back. The purported reason is to share your ETH address, which could actually be done much the same way the scammer’s ETH address was shared in the tweet, or through other means too, that didn’t involve sending money over. Or, it could have been a minimum of 0.01 ETH (worth about $8), instead of 0.5 ETH (which is over $400), that the scammer was asking for.
There is also the matter of sending ETH back to those were late to the scam. Every cryptocurrency transaction has a cost associated with it. If the offer was real, and everyone was getting a minimum of 5 ETH, there would be a maximum 1,000 recipients, before the overflow ETH began being returned to their original owners. The sender (in this case, the scammer) would also have to bear the transaction costs out of their pocket, or the recipients would receive less ETH than they sent initially, to adjust for the transaction fee involved.
Twitter has previously suspended accounts like @elonmus_ and @elonnmuusk for trying similar scams as recently as this month. They all used the same modus operandi and even the preferred choice of cryptocurrency was ethereum.
If something looks too good to be true, it usually is false. So if you see something like that, please take the time to verify it the best you can to minimize your risk of losing money.