Cryptocurrency scammers have reportedly stolen more than $2 million by impersonating celebrities like Elon Musk. Throughout the past few years, Musk has notably been one of the most stalwart promoters of cryptocurrency and especially on social media. Given Musk’s popular stance on the matter, and the proliferation of similar scams last year, it’s no surprise that a good number of investors have fallen for Musk impersonators recently.
Elon Musk is well known for creative entrepreneurial ventures. From Tesla’s ambitious plans for autonomous cars to an actual flamethrower, Musk’s portfolio is vast and includes cryptocurrency. Recently, Tesla started accepting Bitcoin as a way to pay for a new car. Though the company’s Bitcoin stint was ultimately short-lived, Musk remains excited for the future of cryptocurrencies overall. However, it is this enthusiasm that makes Musk a perfect mascot for a scam. Last year, Musk — along with other famous personalities — were hacked on Twitter, with their accounts used to Tweet hoax promises of free cryptocurrency for anyone who responded. The hack has since been addressed, but the scams remain.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), cryptocurrency investors reported more than $2 million in losses, due to impersonation scams. Elon Musk was the only personality named in the report, but there were others involved. Besides impersonations, other scams involve offering tips for more investment returns. Since October 2020, the FTC has received 7,000 reports that have resulted in more than $80 million in losses. The figure has notably risen by around 1,000-percent, compared to the same period one year before.
Avoiding Social Media Crypto Scams
Despite their popularity, cryptocurrencies are still a volatile way to invest. The highs are truly high, but the losses can be just as impactful. Not a lot of people know the best way to earn money through trading the different cryptocurrencies, with the abundance of scammers offering tips (and people falling for them) highlighting just how little understanding of the market there is. To avoid scams like this, would-be investors might want to avoid any quick-fix tips that promise instant or massive returns. An additional precaution is to avoid any accounts that appear to be asking for money or offering investing tips, even if they are from a verified account. Like the 2020 Twitter hack, these scammers often ask would-be investors to send them cryptocurrency from their wallets with the promise of a larger return. These scams always end with the victim losing their money.
The FTC also encourages people to report any potential scams as soon as possible. Although this is unlikely to help with lost money, crypto scammers can be punished after the fact. For example, the 2020 scam hacker was eventually arrested and sentenced. Since the incident happened on Twitter, social media platforms are now more aware of cryptocurrency scams, but that doesn’t mean users of these platforms should necessarily count on them to stay protected from scammers.
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