igh-Profile Crypto Twitter Accounts Exploited: Scammers Amass Nearly $1 Million in Ill-Gotten Gains
In a series of targeted attacks, fraudsters have successfully compromised the Twitter accounts of influential individuals in the cryptocurrency industry, leading to the theft of close to $1 million in digital assets. Notable victims include the founder of Pudgy Penguins, the chief technology officer of OpenAI, and even renowned crypto critic Peter Schiff.
Over the past weeks, these scammers have seized control of more than eight prominent Twitter accounts related to the crypto space, utilizing them as platforms to promote phishing scams. Blockchain investigator ZachXBT has revealed that these illicit activities have resulted in the accumulation of nearly seven figures’ worth of stolen cryptocurrencies.
ZachXBT, in a comprehensive Twitter thread published on June 9, disclosed the discovery of several “linked on chain” wallets directly associated with the phishing scams propagated through the compromised accounts. The investigator suggested that while some of the hacks could be attributed to SIM swaps, it appeared that other accounts may have been pilfered through unauthorized access to a Twitter administrative panel.
Among the targeted accounts are those belonging to figures such as Cole Villemain, the founder of Pudgy Penguins, Steve Aoki, a renowned DJ and NFT collector, and Pete Rizzo, the editor of Bitcoin Magazine. Interestingly, even ardent crypto critic Peter Schiff found himself a victim of this hacking spree, with his account being commandeered to disseminate a dubious link linked to tokenized gold within decentralized finance.
Expressing concern over the severity of the situation, ZachXBT called for a thorough investigation by Twitter Safety into each attack, as the cumulative losses from these incidents have reached nearly $1 million. The investigator highlighted the issue of delayed response times from Twitter Support, allowing some of the scam tweets to persist for extended periods, ranging from hours to even days.
In an effort to enhance security measures, ZachXBT urged individuals to prioritize the use of security keys over SMS-based two-factor authentication, given the vulnerability of the latter method.
Another instance of a compromised account highlighted by ZachXBT involves the chief technology officer of OpenAI, Mira Murati. On June 2, members of the crypto community raised alarms about her account sharing a phishing link promoting a fraudulent airdrop associated with an ERC-20 token named OPENAI. Despite being live for approximately an hour and garnering 79,600 views and 83 retweets, the tweet was eventually deleted. The scammers deliberately restricted replies to prevent users from issuing warnings.
In late May, Arthur Madrid, co-founder and CEO of The Sandbox, a metaverse platform, fell victim to a similar style of Twitter account hijacking. The perpetrators exploited the compromised account to endorse a counterfeit SAND token airdrop. While it remains uncertain whether this particular hack is linked to the group of hackers identified by ZachXBT, the incident highlights the prevalence of such cybercrimes in the crypto space.