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CRYPTOCURRENCY

Twitter accounts of billionaires, celebrities breached in Bitcoin scam

A Bitcoin cryptocurrency scam has targeted high-profile Twitter users.
A Bitcoin cryptocurrency scam has targeted high-profile Twitter users. AFP/File
2 min

The Twitter account of celebrities, politicians and billionaires were simultaneously hacked on Wednesday in what appears to be a Bitcoin cryptocurrency scam.

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Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian West and Apple were among several high-profile accounts that were compromised in the attack, which sought to dupe people into sending Bitcoin.

The attack saw the accounts post a message requesting Bitcoin transfers. The messages, which were all similar, told people they had 30 minutes to send $1,000 in bitcoin, and receive twice that in return — a known cryptocurrency scam technique.

"Everyone is asking me to give back," a tweet from Gates' account said. "You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000."

While most users recognised the scam, blockchain records show that around 300 people sent bitcoin to the hackers. 

Reports indicate a Twitter employee was either paid or coerced into carrying out the attack. Twitter confirmed its internal administrative tools were compromised. 

"We know they [the hackers] used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf," the company tweeted, adding it was investigating the incident and would “take steps to fix it”. 

According to the Biden campaign, Twitter deleted the fraudulent tweet and locked the account. 

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted: "Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened."

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