Twitter scammers impersonating Elon Musk are reportedly pivoting from free accounts to paid ads as they attempt to lure victims with promises of free crypto, trips to Mars, and Neuralink brain chips.
A recent report from Forbes notes how the numbers of ads featuring the Twitter CEO’s photo seem to be on the rise. It even suggests that Twitter is either “knowingly or unknowingly profiting from crypto scams on its platform.”
One of the most elaborate of these scams is an ad, claiming to be from crypto news outlet CoinTelegraph, which purports to show Musk calling for a Neuralink Crypto Token. He never did this.
The ad in question directs would-be victims to a deep fake video of Twitter’s CEO promoting a Neuralink-branded crypto coin. Neuralink is a company founded by Musk that hopes to develop chips that could one day be implanted in the skulls of disabled patients to help restore movement, communication, and even vision.
“I’m here to tell you about the Neuralink crypto token, the cryptocurrency that will change the world forever,” he apparently says.
“With this token, you have a unique opportunity to invest in the future of brain-machine interfaces.”
According to Forbes, this is where the ruse gets particularly clever. When users try to buy the token, they’re forced to create an account using email addresses and passwords. The scammers then test to see if these details have been used anywhere else, for example on crypto exchanges.
The con doesn’t stop there, however. Buyers are told that if they buy enough of the token, they may even get to talk to Musk himself, be entered into a raffle to win a trip to Mars, or even win one of Elon’s brain chips.
Celebrity Twitter scams are depressingly common
Musk is just one of a slew of celebrities whose likenesses have been exploited by Twitter scammers in recent months.
In November 2022, a Twitter account claiming to be the founder of now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), scammed customers into believing they could receive compensation through a fake giveaway.
Shortly before that, a number of Twitter ads claimed to show famed naturalist David Attenborough discussing how he generates his wealth, and back in October, former Spice Girl Mel B was at the center of a scam that attempted to persuade her ‘A-list contacts’ to deposit charity donations through Binance in exchange for cheap bitcoin rates.