Hackers appear to target Twitter accounts of Elon Musk, Joe Biden, others in digital currency scam

Elon Musk looks on as US President Donald Trump attends SpaceX launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 27, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Over a dozen high-profile Twitter accounts, including Apple, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and former president Barack Obama, were apparently hacked on Wednesday and posted tweets telling followers to send bitcoin to a specific address.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was first high-profile account to be hacked, posting a tweet early Wednesday afternoon promising to double any payments sent to the bitcoin address.

Twitter’s stock is down 4% after hours. “We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly,” the company said in a tweet. 


One wallet linked to in the tweets had apparently received over 12 bitcoin, worth over $110,000 at the current exchange rate, according to Blockchain.com

The Musk tweet was deleted minutes after it was sent, before a second tweet asking for bitcoin was posted from the same account and deleted again. In total, Musk’s account sent three bitcoin tweets from a Twitter web account and one reply to Bill Gates. The bitcoin-related tweet was Apple’s first ever tweet, although the account had placed ads in the past. 

Other accounts hacked included former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, musicians Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, the Wendy’s corporate account, and Uber’s corporate account. 

Rachel Tobac, the CEO of cybersecurity firm SocialProof Security, told NBC News that the attack was likely the largest Twitter had ever seen.”I’m surprised twitter hasn’t gone completely dark to prevent misinformation campaigns and political upheaval,” she said. “We are lucky the attackers are going after bitcoin (money motivated) and not motivated by chaos and destruction.”

Apple’s Twitter account was hacked.

Jeff Bezos’ Twitter account was hacked.

Mike Bloomberg’s Twitter account was hacked.

Barack Obama’s Twitter account was hacked.

Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of cryptocurrency market Gemini, offered an explanation in a tweet: “ALL MAJOR CRYPTO TWITTER ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED.” Earlier on Wednesday, several cryptocurrency accounts simultaneously linked to a phishing site called CryptoForHealth.

In the past, one popular cryptocurrency scam on Twitter involved attackers changing their display name and avatar to match Elon Musk, then they would reply to his tweets pretending to be him asking for bitcoin. But on Wednesday, the accounts tweeting about bitcoin were real. The tweets on Wednesday were sent through a web browser accessing Twitter.com, not an app or third-party software. All hacked accounts on Wednesday were verified. 

NBC News reporter Kevin Collier contributed to this report.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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