Elon Musk posts bizarre bitcoin tweet about cryptocurrency scam epidemic

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Elon Musk has inadvertently drawn attention to a cryptocurrency scam epidemic that has engulfed Twitter in recent months, when his account was locked after tweeting about bitcoin.

For almost a year, the serially successful entrepreneur has been the target of cryptocurrency scammers on Twitter, who impersonate his profile picture and account name in order to trick his followers into sending them bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrency.

Other high-profile figures to be targeted include US President Donald Trump, singer Katy Perry and cyber security pioneer John McAfee.

Mr Musk has previously spoken out about the scam epidemic, tweeting in July: “I want to know who is running the Etherium scambots! Mad skillz.”

This prompted a response from ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who pleaded with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to “help us”.

Research published in August by cyber security firm Duo Security revealed a network of 15,000 bot accounts that had been set up to dupe people into falling for cryptocurrency scams.

Twitter has attempted to crack down on the bots, suspending more than 1 million fake and suspicious accounts each day in recent months.

This is presumably why Twitter temporarily locked Mr Musk’s account on Monday night, after he posted a picture of an Anime character in a bitcoin-branded dress, together with the words: “Wanna buy some bitcoin?”

Mr Musk’s tweet elicited around 12,000 likes, 4,000 retweets and more than 700 replies, many of which from prominent people within the cryptocurrency community.

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of the popular exchange Binance, tweeted: “Lol, it’s spreading. I will buy a Tesla if you accept crypto…”

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Mr Musk’s prolific use of Twitter has drawn both positive and negative attention to him and the companies he overseas.

In August, he tweeted plans to take Tesla private, which caused the firm’s stock price to briefly spike. This led to fraud charges being brought against him by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which were eventually settled in September.

Part of the settlement involves Tesla’s board putting in place “additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.” 

But this requirement only comes into effect 90 days after signing it, giving Mr Musk free reign on Twitter for at least another couple of months.

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