The promise of payment of a sizable sum in return for a small payment is a classic scam that has been conducted in various forms for many years. An administration fee is required before a Saudi prince’s inheritance will be paid, and payment I required to help a widow get her husbands fortune out of the country.
This week an interesting variation of the scam has been conducted on Twitter that has been surprisingly effective. The Saudi prince was replaced by Elon Musk, who the scammers claimed had promised to pay 10,000 BTC to the community. The donation, it was claimed, was as a thank you for the support Elon Musk had received since he left the post of director of Tesla in what promised to be the biggest Bitcoin giveaway ever.
Such a bizarre and sizeable gift to the community should have set alarm bells ringing, after all, 10,000 BTC is approximately $64 million – a sizeable thank you in anyone’s book.
All that was required was for participants to pay a token amount (0.1 to 3 BTC) to a specific Bitcoin address. Elon Musk promised to pay back 1-30 times the amount that was paid. To encourage larger donations, anyone sending 0.3 BTC or more would receive an additional 200% in return.
Such a scam would likely be identified as such, but legitimate sources appeared to be promoting the giveaway through their official Twitter accounts, including the Ministry of Transportation of Colombia and the National Disaster Management Authority of India to name but two.
Those accounts were used to verify that some individuals had already received large payments in return for a small BTC transaction. Sites used to promote the scam also had reasonably believable names such as musk.fund, musk.plus and spacex.plus.
The reality was the Twitter accounts promoting the giveaway had been hacked and the domains were registered by the scammers.
The Elon Musk Bitcoin scam sounded too good to be true and it was. However, it has been surprisingly effective. The Bitcoin address had received 392 payments totaling 28 BTC – Around $180,000 – within 24 hours.