Consumers lost over $2 million in cryptocurrency to scammers impersonating Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk over the last six months, the Federal Trade Commission reported Monday.
“Promises of guaranteed huge returns or claims that your cryptocurrency will be multiplied are always scams,” the commission said in its Monday report.
For years, scammers have posed as Musk in order to fraud social media users out of cryptocurrency. They use deceptive tactics on sites like Twitter, often using the same avatar images as Musk’s own account and slightly misspelling his username. Pretending to be Musk, the scammers will ask victims to send currency to a specific wallet address in exchange for receiving a larger payment in return. The scams violate Twitter’s policy against deceptive accounts, but moderators have struggled to rein in the activity, and it remains prevalent on the platform.
The $2 million figure was revealed in a larger report on cryptocurrency published by the FTC on Monday. Since last October, consumers reported losing more than $80 million in cryptocurrency scams, increasing “more than ten-fold year-over-year,” the commission said. Consumers lose around $1,900 through these scams on average.
Musk himself was a target in one of the largest Twitter bitcoin scams last summer. In one of the largest breaches in Twitter history, attackers compromised accounts belonging to Musk, President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Bill Gates, and even Apple to promote a bitcoin scam. The attackers received nearly $120,000 from the scam that forced Twitter to block all verified users from posting new tweets for several hours.