Elon Musk, Poster-Child of Fraudulent Crypto Scam
How often have you heard about Elon Musk being the center of attention in another targeted Bitcoin scam over the past couple of years? – a few too many, right? Well, he is in a similar situation once again.
According to the latest scam, a fake website called economicsworld[dot]com talks about an investment platform that has an endorsement from Elon Musk and it guarantees ROI of more than 4,000%.
Too good to be true? – For you and I, probably yes. However, an analysis conducted by The Independent back in 2018 showed some alarming numbers in regards to a previous scam that involved hacking numerous verified Twitter accounts, using them to impersonate the Tesla CEO and posting the following tweet:
“I’m giving 10,000 Bitcoin (BTC) to all communities! I left the post of director of Tesla, thank you all for your support.”
One of the fraudulent tweets and promotions made to con unsuspecting users via the guise of Elon Musk.
Guess what? – that tweet wasn’t too good to be true for more than 400 people. They sent 28.2 Bitcoins worth, more than $180,000 at today’s exchange rate. Bottom line – yes, these scams are real and these fraudsters do get away with stealing a lot of money every now and then.
What is a Bitcoin Scam?
Before digging deeper, let us first understand what a Bitcoin scam really is.
Just like any other fraudulent activity out there that involves stealing money through false intentions and pretenses, a Bitcoin scam’s aim is to gain the trust of people by a combination of:
- Providing false and inaccurate information
- Exploiting the lack of understanding and knowledge about the cryptocurrency market
In comparison with all the other ways that are used to deceive people in the digital arena for monetary gains like digital ad fraud, mobile app fraud and so forth, one of the major reasons why Bitcoin scammers often evade detection or punitive action is the fact that cryptocurrency works on a decentralized mechanism – meaning that is is not regulated by any bank, institution, or authority.
Most of these scams take place via ICOs (initial coin offerings). According to a report, 80% of all ICOs are scams while only 8% of the total floated ICOs are traded on various cryptocurrency platforms and exchanges.
Cryptocurrency Exchange Hacks Trend in 2019
2019 saw a rapid increase in cryptocurrency hacks – with seven major exchanges being targets of large-scale hacking resulting in the loss of millions of dollars.
Source: Cointelegraph. This image tracks the rapid fluctuation and acceleration of cryptocurrency-based scams.
Fake Celebrity Endorsements
The 2017 cryptocurrency boom paved the way for a number of different fraudulent schemes, scams, etc. Even though 2018 was relatively quiet due to global financial and stock market decline – however, as soon as the markets showed signs of recovery, so did the emergence of ad frauds and crypto scams.
One type of scam is fake articles and impersonations that you might have read about. There was an uptick of mainstream actors, entrepreneurs, and businessmen inviting people to join a certain Bitcoin platform and would ask you to take an action – usually related to making a small investment and getting an increased ROI.
The fake website known as economicsworld[dot]com, talks about ‘Bitcoin Profit’ that uses a number of celebrity endorsements as part of its fraudulent scheme. The balance sheet is the same for each of these celebrities. In a week of crypto trading, scammers deceived the public by showing a purchase of $10,934 worth of Bitcoin currency that gave them a return of $421,226. To be precise, this is a 4,110% return on investment.
Elon Musk is not the only public figure who has been victimized. Actress Kate Winslet, Australian business tycoon Andrew Forrest, British TV broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson – just to name a few – have all been targets of these so-called cryptocurrency scams in recent times.
Following the scams, Elon Musk replied to a question via video when asked about the platform’s improvement at a Twitter Employee Conference. His tweet to his 31 million followers read:
“The crypto scam level on Twitter is reaching new levels. This is not cool,”… “Troll/ bot networks on Twitter are a dire problem for adversely affecting public discourse and ripping people off.”
In addition, he emphasized the fact that any suspicious or malicious activity needs to be reported right away in order to reduce the impact of these scams. He went on further and applauded Google’s efforts in battling malicious and fake accounts over the past few years and implied that Twitter could learn a lesson or two from them.
“Trolls/ bots just need to be deemphasized relative to probably real people who aren’t being paid to push an agenda or scam,” he mentioned. “Google still shows bs/ scam pages, they’re just several clicks away.”
Actress Kate Winslet reacted in a similar fashion when she discussed the crypto scam to the Mirror. She showed distress regarding the use of her name, pictures, and statements that did not involve her consent or permission at all.
How to Deal With It?
For now, we can surely put the blame on Bitcoin Profit and all the associated entities that crippled the crypto accounts on Twitter. In the future, what can we collectively do to prevent such scams?
Never Buy Into Something that Doesn’t Sound Right
This is undoubtedly the first step in protecting yourself from becoming a possible target. The Australian Entrepreneur Andrew Forrest scam interview mentioned him saying “transform anyone into a millionaire within three-to-four months.”
Furthermore, his fake endorsement said:
“What’s made me successful is jumping into new opportunities quickly- without any hesitation. And right now, my number one money-maker is a new cryptocurrency auto-trading program called BTC Profit System. It’s the single biggest opportunity I’ve seen in my entire lifetime to build a small fortune fast.”
So if something doesn’t sound right, there is a reason it doesn’t. Pay attention to that part.
Always be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true giveaways that invite you to take action – possibly an online transaction. Also, multiple grammatical errors, the triple-digit percentage jumps in ROI, or an opportunity to become an overnight millionaire – are all obvious signs that one should not miss.
Keep Yourself Informed and Updated
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
― Albert Einstein
Knowledge is the biggest weapon anyone can possibly have. Just skimming through the headlines of your news app once a day is not enough. If you want to make an investment in the crypto business, or any other business for that matter, do your research well instead of blindly following those ‘Click Here’ buttons and hoping that you will wake up in a luxurious yacht the next day.
It is imperative to realize that these scams and attempts to generate money by using false methodologies will never be completely eliminated. Technological advancement is so rapid that it becomes difficult to keep up.
Yes, in a larger perspective, technology growth is a good thing. However, on the flip side, a number of people can be easily tricked into believing something about technology that they don’t fully understand in the first place.
In this modern tech-savvy era that we are part of – with numerous sides to a story and the constant emergence of fake news round the clock – it is pretty easy to find yourself caught up in an echo chamber of confirmation bias where discerning certain information becomes next to impossible.