Twitter bitcoin scam hacks major accounts using internal systems

16 Jul 2020

Image: © fox17/

A major hack has managed to collect $116,000 worth of bitcoin from Twitter followers of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West and Joe Biden, among others.

A bitcoin scam has reportedly targeted a number of prominent US figures, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden and Kanye West.

The attack tried to trick people into sending amounts of the cryptocurrency, targeting millions of Twitter users by sending out false tweets. A post from Gates’ account, for example, said: “Everyone is asking me to give back. You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.”

Another from presidential candidate Joe Biden read: “I am giving back to the community. All bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes. Enjoy!”

The tweets told followers that they had just 30 minutes to transfer their money if they wanted to get the promised amount back.

Twitter has said that the scam used the platform’s internal systems and tools to carry out the attack, and that it is taking “significant steps” to limit access to these while the company carries out its investigation.

The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted: “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.”

Twitter’s emergency response saw any validated accounts – those with the famous blue tick – blocked from sending out tweets for around two hours.

According to BBC, co-founder of cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, Dmitri Alperovitch, described the scam as “the worst hack of a major social media platform yet”. It follows a number of Twitter hacks that have taken place over the years. In 2019, for example, Dorsey’s account posted a series of racist messages without his knowledge.

Its latest announcement told users: “As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Bitcoin transactions monitor said that 12.58 bitcoins – equating around $116,000 – had been transferred as a result of the attack. RTÉ reported that Justin Sun, CEO of BitTorrent, is offering a $1m reward for finding the scammers.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021