Apple, Elon Musk, Obama and more are tweeting out a Bitcoin scam

Screenshot by Chuck Reynolds/CNET

Bitcoin scammers targeted the Twitter accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Barack Obama and businesses including Apple and Uber on Wednesday in what appears to be part of a large-scale hack.

“I’m feeling generous because of Covid-19,” the now-deleted tweet from the Musk account reads. “I’ll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!”

Screenshot by Ian Sherr/CNET

Meanwhile, the verified account of billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates tweeted a similar call, since deleted: “I am doubling all payments sent to my BTC address for the next 30 minutes. You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.”

A spokesperson for Gates confirmed the tweet was not sent by the billionaire philanthropist.

“We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

Twitter said it was looking into the issue but didn’t immediately have more information about how the accounts got compromised. 

In both cases, the tweets end with a link where unsuspecting readers can send Bitcoin. We’ve blacked that bit out in the screenshots above.

It’s a similar situation to scams we’ve seen before, including in 2018, when hackers took control of the verified Twitter accounts of Target and Google’s G-Suite.

And, it seems that Musk and Gates were only two of several high-profile accounts to get hacked. Scammy tweets were seen in the feeds for Apple and Uber, too.

“ALL MAJOR CRYPTO TWITTER ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED,” tweeted Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. “We are investigating and hope to have more information shortly.”

“WARNING: @Gemini’s twitter account, along with a number of other crypto twitter accounts, has been hacked,” added Tyler Winklevoss, echoing his twin brother and Gemini co-founder’s concern. “This has resulted in @Gemini, @coinbase, @binance, and @CoinDesk, tweeting about a scam partnership with CryptoForHealth. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK! These tweets are SCAMS.”

A cursory check of the BTC address from the since-deleted tweets shows a total received of 5.77900620 BTC — roughly $53,195.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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