On Wednesday afternoon, an important day for Twitter, the accounts of high-profile individuals — from Barack Obama to Elon Musk — erupted in a strange chorus.
Bitcoin is a perfect fit for online scams, as a 2017 paper , because it can offer truly anonymous transactions that are irreversible.
That means you only need to get someone hooked once, and years of research has revealed how the best get it done.
is a lecturer in computer science at University College London who .
Between 2011 and 2014, Vasek studied 41 bitcoin scams and found that $11 million dollars worth of bitcoin had been exchanged as a result of those scams.
Vasek’s research reveals 3 ways that scammers usually get it done, and how this breaking scam is truly unique.
As of writing, the wallet has received the equivalent of over.
The research – In her 2015, paper Vasek notes that the most successful bitcoin scams often go after a few “big fish” or larger donations, rather than targeting many smaller donations.
Here’s how she puts it in the paper:
How it applies to this scam– By targeting high-profile Twitter accounts, this scam appears to have gone for breath rather than a few “big fish” donations.
Collectively, the accounts hacked had at least 139.4 million followers, as .
So far, there have been 355 transactions as of writing.
The research – Vasek’s 2018 research is based on bitcoin scams that originate in forms.
There, the newer the account, the more warning signs get sent off.
Scams that originate from accounts created the same day typically die within four days of existing.
When scammers wait just one day before posting, that life can be extended up to 26 days.
The Twitter bitcoin scam posted to Bill Gates account.
In the paper, the authors mention that this has to do with building reputation.
On the internet, that’s sometimes called a (that’s like looking at how many followers someone has to judge their legitimacy or how many reviews they’ve written before you decide to trust their judgment).
As these authors write: “We demonstrate that having a reputation on the Bitcoin forum matters.”
How it applies to this scam – Here the scammers are using the same principle, but going outside the world of bitcoin forums.
Gaining access to celebrity accounts that range from the news outlet to Kanye can confer them that reputation mechanism for just long enough to get one person to hit send.
The research – That 2018 paper also dives into how scammers need to engage with their intended victims to get them to bite.
Of those posts, only 50 percent lasted longer than one day.
The more the scammer shilled, the more that tended to elongate the scam’s lifespan.
While the average scam lasted about a week, scammers who repeatedly posted were able to extend the life up to three weeks.
“Scammers interacting with their victims seem to prop up their scam, at least in the short term,” the authors write.
How it applies to this scam – These scammers had little opportunity to work the room.
Immediately upon posting, high profile accounts like that of Joe Biden were “locked down” right away, a campaign aide CNN.
That said, on some accounts like Musks and Obamas the scammers were able to slip in a second post before being pushed out.
“Just sent out $40,000” reads a tweet that went out from the former President’s account at 5:35 p.m.
A screenshot of scammer engagement on former President Barack Obama’s twitter account.
Even that may have increased their chances of success, even if they were clearly never going for longevity.
From our friends at INPUT: