Hackers who took over high-profile accounts may have made off with over R2 million worth of bitcoin

Business Insider US
  • Hackers may have tricked Twitter users into giving them more than $120,000 (R2 million) after taking over dozens of high-profile accounts in a colossal scam that rocked the platform Wednesday.
  • The scam began after hackers hijacked the accounts of prominent people and companies including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Apple, Uber, Elon Musk, and Kanye West.
  • They tweeted links to bitcoin addresses and told people they would match their donations, and hundreds of people appeared to send money - though it may be impossible to confirm whether the transactions were legitimate.
  • Twitter eventually intervened by limiting some accounts' ability to post in an attempt to minimise the damage.
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Hackers put Twitter through a whirlwind on Wednesday, hijacking dozens of accounts and potentially making off with more than $120,000 (R2 million) in the process.

The hackers took over the accounts of a long list of high-profile individuals and companies, including: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kanye West, Michael Bloomberg, Apple, Uber, and several major cryptocurrency exchanges.

The compromised accounts then tweeted out messages saying they were "giving back" to their communities and would match any donations made to various scam cryptocurrency wallets.

From there, hundreds of people appeared to take the bait - one wallet address posted widely received more than 350 transactions within a few hours. Business Insider identified at least three wallets mentioned in tweets by seemingly compromised accounts, but it's not clear that those were the only ones that received money.

Additionally, not every transaction sent to those wallets is necessarily the result of people being duped by Wednesday's Twitter scam. Hackers often artificially pump up cryptocurrency accounts with money ahead of time to make them seem more legitimate, so the account balances may overestimate how much the scam yielded.

Due to the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency, it will likely be difficult to determine how much money hackers ultimately made off with.

Twitter eventually stepped in Wednesday afternoon in an effort to minimise the damage, tweeting that it was "aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter" and "investigating and taking steps to fix it."

Shortly afterward, many verified users - including some critical government and emergency services - reported that they were temporarily unable to tweet at all, and Twitter eventually followed with an update around 7:15 pm ET confirming that it had restricted some accounts' posting ability.

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