The Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Elon Musk and many other high-profile people and companies became pawns Wednesday in one of the most visible cyberscams in the internet’s history.
Suspected Bitcoin scammers grabbed control of accounts belonging to the rich and famous, as well as lower-profile accounts, for more than two hours during the afternoon and tricked at least a few hundred people into transferring the cryptocurrency.
A tweet typical of the attack, sent from the account of Bill Gates, the software mogul who is the world’s second-wealthiest person, promised to double all payments sent to his Bitcoin address for the next 30 minutes.
“Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time,” the tweet said. “You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.”
Similar tweets appeared on the accounts of rapper Kanye West and investor Warren Buffett and corporations including Apple, Wendy’s, Uber and the money transfer app Cash.
Twitter said Wednesday night that it was likely “a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”
“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf,” the platform said.
It froze the the ability of verified accounts to tweet for nearly three hours as a precaution.
Compromised accounts remained off-limits for their owners as Twitter tried to get to the bottom of what happened, it said.
“Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing,” Twitter said.
Earlier in the day Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in.
“Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened,” he tweeted. “We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
The FBI’s San Francisco office said…
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