A little healthy skepticism never hurt anybody, right? On Twitter, you might want to reach into your skepticism bag and pull out a big, healthy chunk, because the service can feel like an epicenter of scamming. Just consider the many illegitimate Twitter users who attempt to pass themselves off as somebody else on a frequent basis.
You’ve probably seen kinds of accounts these pop up on your feed from time to time. Some are pathetically obvious, like when a scam account simply appends letters to a celebrity’s name and throws in a photo to make it appear, at first glance, that they are the real deal. Or perhaps someone is using the classic “a lowercase l looks a lot like an uppercase I” trick, or the
That, and a number of scammers—as noted in a recent article from Buzzfeed—just bank on the assumption that a less-savvy Twitter user might not know what a verification symbol even is, or what its significance might be. To them, an account like “Alon_Musk” might really be the SpaceX CEO, even though most people should really know better.
And what’s the point of this Twitter masquerade? As Buzzfeed notes, a number of scammers are now trying to con people out of cryptocurrencies—a bit of a juxtaposition, for those who are most easily duped into thinking “DoonaldTump65” is actually the president probably aren’t very hip to Bitcoin/Ethereum/your cryptocurrency of choice.
Nevertheless, the scammers persist.
“I’m donating 250 BITCOIN! to the BTC community! First 250 transactions with 0.2 BTC sent to the address below will receive 1.0 BTC in the address the 0.2 BTC came from,” said one such account, @ElonMuski, in a reply to the real Elon Musk’s Twitter account—one technique the scammers use to make their fake accounts appear legitimate at a quick glance.
Though the scams don’t work on a massive scale, all it takes is a few fooled donors to rake in a healthy cryptocurrency payday, depending on which currency a scammer asks users to contribute. And that’s partly because bot networks are amplifying these fake tweets with fake replies about how easy it was to get a free payout for a small donation.
Once you cough up some cryptocurrency, that’s it. There’s no way to get your cryptocurrency back. It’s gone for good. And while these scams aren’t exclusive to Twitter, they have seemed to find a healthy home on the microblogging platform. Twitter is working on steps to address the growing
“We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner,” a Twitter spokesperson told Buzzfeed.