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Scammer behind massive Twitter hack has made only $109,000—so far

July 15, 2020, 10:10 PM UTC

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Twitter fell victim to the largest hacking incident in its history on Tuesday as scammers hijacked the accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Joe Biden, as well as those belonging to companies like Uber and Apple.

The scam began around 3 p.m. ET when hackers infiltrated the accounts of prominent cryptocurrency companies, including Coinbase and Binance. The hackers encouraged Twitter users to visit a suspicious health website and, later on Wednesday, used the celebrity accounts to send Bitcoin in promise of a reward.

It’s unclear who is behind the incidents, but early reports suggest the massive hacking operation occurred as a result of someone gaining access to Twitter’s internal security operations.

The attack, which was still underway as of late Wednesday afternoon, effectively gave the hackers control over one of the most influential media platforms in the world. But ironically, the payoff appears to have been relatively meager.

As of 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Bitcoin address—loosely akin to a bank account number—broadcast by the hackers had received just under 12 Bitcoins, the total worth around $109,000 based on current prices. Some of the transactions could have been made by the scammers themselves.

The hackers have since moved half of that amount to another Bitcoin address.

It is possible to view the movement of the funds because of Bitcoin’s design, which creates a public ledger of transactions known as a blockchain. A popular service called Blockchain Explorer lets anyone view such activity—including that tied to the scam address (which is bc1qxy2kgdygjrsqtzq2n0yrf2493p83kkfjhx0wlh).

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency company that was among the first targets of the scam, has been blocking any attempted payments to the scammers’ address—possibly undercutting the scam’s effectiveness.

Update: The scammers created a new Bitcoin address after 6pm ET, tweeting it out from the Twitter account of Square’s Cash App.

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