Online fraudsters have netted over $2 million in illegal funds after using Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s name in a range of Bitcoin scams, according to a report from ZDNet (opens in new tab).
Over the past few months, cybersecurity firm Adaptiv has discovered 66 Bitcoin vanity addresses that are using the tech billionaire’s name in fake giveaways.
- Antivirus: stay protected when online with the best software
- Best VPN: pick the ideal provider for watertight privacy
- Just in: Dozens of Netgear routers can easily be hacked
Bitcoin vanity addresses can be customised with different words, which allows cybercriminals to use these addresses to make their scams look legitimate.
In the case of Elon Musk, ZDNet says that perpetrators have been creating addresses such as “1MuskPsV7BnuvMuHGWmmXUyXKjxp3vLZX6" and "1ELonMUsKZzpVr5Xok8abiXhhqGbdrnK5C."
Adaptiv CEO Justin Lister worked with BitcoinAbuse -- a website that tracks bitcoin addresses leveraged for ransomware, blackmail and fraud -- over two months to investigate Bitcoin vanity addresses that use Musk’s name as part of scams.
It found that fraudsters began creating these addresses at the end of April and have made an estimated 214 bitcoin (roughly $2 million) through online giveaway scams.
To circulate these scams, cybercriminals hacked YouTube accounts with large followings, created new account names, and added branding so that they appeared to be used by prominent figures.
The hackers then held live streams via the breached accounts, convincing users to part ways with their bitcoin in return for making a profit. To take part in the fake giveaways, users had to transfer bitcoin via addresses in the live stream that would be accessed via QR codes or by heading to a malicious website.
As per the ZDNet report, the live streams would coincide with real celebrity events. And the hackers used YouTube account names related to Elon Musk, his companies and news channels to make the competitions seem legitimate.
It’s likely that fraudsters have been using Musk’s name and businesses as he regularly appears in the news. More recently, his company SpaceX hit headlines right around the world when it sent a rocket with NASA astronauts aboard to space.
- Read more: Stay protected online for less with the best cheap VPN