So How Much Money Have Fake Elon Musk Twitter Scammers REALLY Made?

For anyone familiar with cryptocurrency, or for regular Twitter users, it’s widely known that crypto scammers have begun to create fake celebrity Twitter accounts to dupe careless victims into giving away their crypto holdings. Numerous celebrities have been impersonated in these sorts of money-grabs, ranging from actor William Shatner to billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk.

In fact, a recent report claimed that crypto scams involving the stolen identity of Musk have garnered over $175,000 in profits for the fraudsters involved. However, deeper analysis suggests that the figures reported are largely overestimated.

elon musk crypto scam

An example of an Elon Musk imposter on Twitter

CCN reports that, while an examination of the wallets linked to Elon Musk impersonators reveals that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been sent to the fraudsters, there is good reason to believe that a significant portion of the crypto actually came from the scammers themselves. This was likely done by the scammers to provide false reassurance to victims that the giveaways were legitimate. In short, the fake transactions help to create one of those easy to fall into, “Well if everyone else is doing it, I guess I should too” scenarios.

Looking at a specific case, one of the recent Musk scams received a total of 19 transactions. While the scammer advertised in their Twitter ad that readers could “send from .1 to 1 BTC to get from 1 to 10 BTC back,” most of this particular wallet’s transactions were between .001 to .01 BTC on average. Indeed, of the 19 recorded transactions linked to the scam, only 2 met the actual requirements of the scammers.

This may indicate that the series of microtransactions were set off by the scammers themselves to generate hype. Even the two possibly-legitimate transactions fell in the same time frame as the fake ones, meaning that perhaps 100 percent of the transactions were done by the scammers. Additionally, given the opportunity for legal recourse, none of the potential victims of this scam ever came forward. Again unusual.

The logic of scammers executing fake transactions to build hype was first explained by Udi Wertheimer, who pointed out to CoinDesk that this is a common tactic used by scammers in other domains:

Coindesk has since changed their story in light of Wertheimer’s criticisms.

While the staggering amounts of fraudster profits reported by crypto news outlets have likely been overestimated, the growing popularity of profile-jacking scams continues to be a problem that social media outlets and celebrities are working to fight against.

In September, Musk himself reached out to Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer to help write a script to address this issue. After a short exchange on Twitter, Palmer reported that “Elon has the script… we had a good chat on how @jack and the Twitter team should definitely automate and fix this problem on their end though.”

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