The biggest change to Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover — the monetization of verification — appears to have been very costly for many crypto advocates and NFT collectors and a boon for phishing scammers.
According to a Twitter thread from @g13m, these scammers appear to be focusing much of their activity on individuals who are very young or very old, have problems with reading, or have other learning disabilities.
The scam goes something like this: a criminal — in this case, we’ll focus on a YouTuber and internet troll going by the name BlueXBT and JB’s Adventures — purchases verification (blue or gold) for a minimal amount of money (as is widely understood, a blue checkmark costs $8 a month and a gold check is $1,000 a month) and sets their name to be nearly identical to a well-known brand or individual.
Once they’ve done this, they bump up their follower numbers using bots and spam, set their avatar and bio to be identical, and block the account they’re impersonating so as not to tip them off right away.
At this point, the scam is relatively easy to run, needing little more than an automated bot to reply to large accounts that tweet out regularly, and occasionally checking direct messages for marks. You’ll notice that large brand accounts attempt to fight this by posting a tweet at the end of a thread stating that any tweets below the final one are not from their account and are inevitably scams and spam. However, this alone isn’t enough to counter the problem.
When verification means Jack
While the former verification system obviously had serious issues — namely that there was very little transparency around who was verified and why — the monetization of verification has completely destroyed the meaning of a checkmark. This has allowed scammers to thrive.
While Musk assumed that putting a paywall between scammers and verification would hinder their endeavors, it has instead simply put a price on doing business. And it’s a price that scammers are more than willing to pay.
Indeed, in this latest reported scam, BlueXBT was able to steal over $200,000 worth of cryptocurrencies and NFTs from just one individual, 200Xing his initial investment in a single Twitter Gold verified account.
It’s unclear how Musk plans to solve this issue, as raising rates will make verification impossible for many simply from a fiscal standpoint, and doing nothing leaves scammers able to regularly phish and earn an income.