As cryptocurrency awareness grows, so does the amount of scammers seeking to part investors from their coins any way they can. A new trend has developed over recent weeks, where prominent Twitter users - often Twitter-verified public figures such as Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin or Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao - are being impersonated by similar-named accounts that offer followers an amount of cryptocurrency as part of a giveaway. The catch? These Twitter users must send coins to an account in order to get a larger amount in return. Except these scammers are making off with the coins, leaving investors with empty wallets.
Twitter is primarily responsible for the prominence of these scams, as the scammer impersonating public figures will ‘@ reply’ to the public figure, which anchors the scam tweet directly under a real tweet from the real account.
This gives the scam tweets an appearance of being legitimate. It has forced many public figures to change their names on Twitter to include things like ‘Vitalik “No I am not giving away ETH” Buterin.’ This has not been a deterrent for scammers.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged that Twitter will crack down on the scams, but their efforts have had an opposite effect, resulting in bans of actual accounts such as Kraken’s support account being permanently banned as a result of “rules” against warning people about scams. Other prominent users such as Bitcoinmom or Washington DC Coin Center’s Director of Communications Neeraj Agrawal, have been “shadowbanned” by Twitter without an explanation. A shadowban is a stealth ban that the banned user is unaware of, but severely limits the number of Twitter users who are able to see the banned user’s tweets. Such a move will have a negative effect on stopping scams, as those who aim to warn Twitter users of said scams, are being muffled.
The scam often involves offering free Ethereum, Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies in large quantities, if a user first sends them a smaller amount of the same crypto. The scammer will send small amounts of crypto to the wallets and send some out, to make the scam appear legit. They also will reply via other faked Twitter accounts thanking the scammers for the free crypto, furthering the legitimacy in the public eye.
The best advice we can give is to never send anyone cryptocurrency who is offering a larger sum in return. Such a method does not make sense, and these scams on Twitter have become the new “Nigerian Prince” scam of the internet.