Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Bill Gates and others hacked in Bitcoin scam

Published: Jul 16, 2020, 11:55 IST | PTI | Washington D.C.

Bitcoin is a popular vehicle for this type of scam because once a victim sends money, the design of Bitcoin, with no institution in charge, makes it essentially impossible to recover the funds

Barack Obama and Bill Gates
Barack Obama and Bill Gates

Several prominent Twitter accounts, including those of former US president Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, were hacked apparently to promote a Bitcoin scam in what the microblogging site believes to be a "coordinated social engineering attack." The account of former US vice-president Joe Biden, who is the current Democratic Party presidential candidate in the November election, was also hacked.

"We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools," Twitter's support team said on Wednesday. The attackers posted tweets that appeared to promote a cryptocurrency scam. The fake tweets offered to send USD 2,000 for every USD 1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.

Bitcoin is a popular vehicle for this type of scam because once a victim sends money, the design of Bitcoin, with no institution in charge, makes it essentially impossible to recover the funds, The New York Times report said. The accounts, along with those of Obama, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Warren Buffett, Bezos and Mike Bloomberg, posted similar tweets soliciting donations via Bitcoin to their verified profiles on Wednesday, CNN reported.

The posts all included the address of the same bitcoin wallet, which has seen as much as USD 112,000 pour into it over the last few hours. It is unclear if this money came from unsuspecting users or the scammers themselves, The Hill reported. "Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time," Gates' tweet said, promising to double all payments to a Bitcoin address for the next 30 minutes. All the tweets were subsequently deleted.

"Once we became aware of the incident, we immediately locked down the affected accounts and removed Tweets posted by the attackers," Twitter said. "We have locked accounts that were compromised and will restore ac cess to the original account owner only when we are certain we can do so securely."

Jack Dorsey, Twitter's chief executive, said in a post on Wednesday night that it was a ¿tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible that this happened. We're diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened,¿ The New York times reported.

A spokesperson for Biden's campaign told The Hill that Twitter locked down the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's account and removed the tweet "immediately following the breach."

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