Several high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked simultaneously on Wednesday and used to spread a cryptocurrency scam, according to multiple reports.
The scam included bogus tweets from former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked.
The fake tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
"I'm feeling generous because of Covid-19," many of the tweets read. "I'll double any BTC payment set to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!"
"We have partnered with CryptoForHealth and are giving back 5000 BTC," reads another version of the scam.
Among the political figures targeted, the hack mostly appeared to target Democrats or other figures on the left, according to the Associated Press. The hack drew comparisons to the 2016 presidential campaign, when Russia engaged in coordinated attempts to interfere in the elections through social media tampering and various hacks.
The fake tweets were all quickly deleted, and Twitter said it is investigating the hack.
The security problem was severe enough for Twitter to warn that many of its users might be unable to tweet or reset their passwords while the company tried to lock things down.
In a tweet thread late Wednesday, Twitter said hackers gained access to its internal systems through a successful “social engineering attack” against its employees.
According to a report by Forbes, social engineering is a technique used by hackers to dupe users into clicking on malicious links or giving away sensitive data by crafting fake emails or other messages.
By the end of the day, thementioned in the fake tweets had received almost 12.9 bitcoins, an amount currently valued at slightly more than $114,000, according to AP. At some point during the day, roughly half that sum in bitcoin was withdrawn from the account.