IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Cyber criminals use Elon Musk’s name in a giveaway scam

Cybercriminals used name-dropping Bitcoin vanity addresses to steal $2 million in two months

Bitcoin cryptocurrency mining

Cyber criminals are back to their old tricks, according to Cyware, and have been discovered encouraging users to send them Bitcoin with the promise to return double the amount to them as part of a giveaway.

This time around, though, cyber criminals are using Elon Musk to dupe their victims into handing over their bitcoin. Over the past two months, these savvy scammers have reportedly made more than $2 million.

The scammers are using Bitcoin vanity addresses like "1ELonMUsKZzpVr5Xok8abiXhhqGbdrnK5C” to make their scam appear credible. The vanity URLs were shared via YouTube live streams as giveaway scams.

Scammers commandeered YouTube channels Juice TV, Right Human and MaximSakulevich as part of the scam and renamed them “SpaceX Live” or “SpaceX” to promote the phoney giveaways.

Per Justin Lister, CEO of cyber-security firm Adaptiv, 67 Bitcoin vanity addresses have been associated with the scams. 

Elon Musk’s name has been used to lure unsuspecting victims before. In August 2018, a hacker broke into a verified Twitter account and rebranded it as Musk’s account. After doing so, the hacker posted fake tweets promising free bitcoin and Ethereum giveaways. Musk had over 22 million followers at the time. Similar incidents took place in November 2018 and June 2019.

In June 2018, scammers used Musk’s name on Twitter to siphon off 8,148 Ether, which was valued at $4.3 million. The scam included fake Twitter accounts attributed to popular celebrities like Musk and promised sizable giveaway returns.

Cyber criminals have used giveaways to lure their victims for years. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms have all experienced such scams. To prevent yourself from falling for these too-good-to-be-true offers, we recommend confirming an account holder’s identity before participating in a cryptocurrency giveaway.

Featured Resources

Activation playbook: Deliver data that powers impactful, game-changing campaigns

Bringing together data and technology to drive better business outcomes

Free Download

In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key

Data processes are crucial to guide decisions and drive business growth

Free Download

Achieving resiliency with Everything-as-a-Service (XAAS)

Transforming the enterprise IT landscape

Free Download

What is contextual analytics?

Creating more customer value in HR software applications

Free Download

Recommended

US government warns of increased risk of ransomware over holiday season
ransomware

US government warns of increased risk of ransomware over holiday season

24 Nov 2021
Hackers use Linux backdoor on compromised e-commerce sites with software skimmer
malware

Hackers use Linux backdoor on compromised e-commerce sites with software skimmer

19 Nov 2021
Iranian hackers ramp up attacks against IT services sector
hacking

Iranian hackers ramp up attacks against IT services sector

19 Nov 2021
TikTok phishing campaign tried to scam over 125 influencer accounts
social media

TikTok phishing campaign tried to scam over 125 influencer accounts

18 Nov 2021

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
Preparing for the 3G sunset
Network & Internet

Preparing for the 3G sunset

18 May 2022
(ISC)2 launches free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security
Careers & training

(ISC)2 launches free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security

17 May 2022