Twitter is finally making moves to halt the plague of cryptocurrency scams on the platform, according to Bloomberg.
Cryptocurrency scams such as pump and dump schemes and fake initial coin offerings have been prevalent across social media for a long time now. Examples include a fake Charlie Lee (creator of Litecoin) profile that promoted a fake cryptocurrency raffle, and a fake Elon Musk (@elonmuskik) writing: “Just for today I’ve decided to give away 3,000 ETH to my fans. Simply send 0.4-4.0 ETH to my address and I’ll send you back 5-40 ETH. If you are late, your ETH will be sent back.”
The latter post gathered hundreds of likes, according to Newsweek.
Safety tip: Beware of twitter handles that are similar to ours that promise coin giveaways, if you send them a deposit first. We are not doing a giveaway at this time.
— Kraken Exchange (@krakenfx) February 21, 2018
Such is the scale of the problem that Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, has changed his Twitter username to ‘Vitalik “No I’m not giving away ETH” Buterin’. He wrote: “No, I’m not giving away ETH. Or BTC. Or BCH. Or DOGE. Y’all are getting nothing.”
No, I’m not giving away ETH.
— Vitalik “No I’m not giving away ETH” Buterin (@VitalikButerin) March 4, 2018
John McAfee is another example. McAfee is a big fan of cryptocurrency, to the extent that he was suspected of pumping cryptocurrencies himself (although that was never proven). He has also been targeted.
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Urgent: My account was hacked. Twitter has been notified. The coin of the day tweet was not me. As you all know… I am not doing a coin of the day anymore!!!!
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) December 27, 2017
He subsequently wrote to his thousands of Twitter fans: “The scammers are becoming problematic. Twitter has been no help. When I go into protected tweet mode my Twitter app crashes because it cannot handle the volume of follow requests. Do not fall for any giveaways. I do not give away anything.”
Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University, said to Bloomberg: “Crypto-spam reached untenable proportions recently. It was impossible to discuss any topic without having some spammer jump in, impersonate a cryptocelebrity, and try to collect coins from people with promises of easy gains.”
Twitter is now responding to the epidemic. It released a statement to Newsweek: “We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner.”
We are on it.
— jack (@jack) March 6, 2018
Facebook recently banned all cryptocurrency advertising on the platform (along with advertising for binary options) in response to promotions appearing with taglines such as “Click here to learn more about our no-risk cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world” and “Use your retirement funds to buy Bitcoin”.
At the time, product management director Rob Leathern said: “We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception. That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs, and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”
Recently, it came to light that fraudulent cryptocurrency applications numbering in the hundreds are being actively sold on the Apple and Google application stores – on one occasion, a fake app appeared at the top of the list of most widely-sold applications at Apple, and three fake Bitcoin applications were downloaded approximately 20,000 times from the Google Store before they were removed.