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Crypto scam

Twitter hack ‘proved bitcoin’s transparency’

Barack Obama in Edinburgh

Barack Obama: one of the targets of the scam

A failed bitcoin scam by hackers accessing the Twitter accounts of global politicians and business leaders proved the resilience of the cryptocurrency, it has been claimed.

Former US president Barack Obama along with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon leader Jeff Bezos were among those targeted.

The hackers – a team of four, according to the New York Times – posted tweets instructing individuals to send bitcoins to an unknown cryptocurrency wallet. A total of $123,000 worth of BTC (bitcoin) is understood to have been sent via more than 400 transactions. 

Some of this activity was thought to be the hackers transferring bitcoin to inflate, and thus attempt to legitimise, the activity.  Seventeen transactions involved more than $1,000. 

According to the Times, the scam was traced back to a group of hackers who met at OGusers.com, a username-swapping community where people buy and sell online handles.

Twitter temporarily blocked all high-profile verified accounts from posting while it investigated and sought to resolve the issue. It said it will provide more details on the issue as the investigation develops.

Katharine Wooller: ‘cryptos’ transparency is its strength’

Katharine Wooller, managing director of Dacxi UK & Eire, a Singapore-headquartered crypto exchange, said: “The crypto naysayers were quick to delight in bitcoin as the criminals’ currency of choice.

“This somewhat misses the point however. The hack is humiliating for Twitter; at a time where the power of the largest tech firms and their policies are under scrutiny.  Let’s be honest, to be caught out by a social engineering hack, for a social media company, is hugely embarrassing.” 

Ms Wooller points out that within hours of the hack, blockchain analysts had pieced together the hacker’s timeline, and tracked the resulting bitcoin transactions.  Whilst the wallets in question may not have an associated name and address, they are part of a ledger, which anyone can monitor. 

“Critics are concerned over the centralisation, and dominance of social media platforms,” she said. “In contrast cryptos’ decentralised nature and transparency is its strength.

“Regulation, of course, needs to keep the crypto industry accountable.  In the UK, the regulatory authority is taking crypto seriously and rightly so.”

The FCA’s June research note showed that 3.86% of the general population currently own cryptocurrencies. 

Ms Wooller admits that too many exchanges are not complying with the rules.

If some of the biggest names in the world of politics, showbiz and business can be used in an attempted hijack, then, really anything is possible

– Katherine Wooller, Dacxi

“Let us be clear, press coverage to warn unsuspecting users of scams is crucial. However, as the industry matures, coupled with reputable businesses with a UK presence, it seems that the retail audience is savvy, and, more importantly increasingly comfortable with crypto and its potential.

“Some of the media appears to sway towards Bitcoin being the tool for scammers and as some of the phishing attempts via email and social media get every more sophisticated, it is becoming clear that  that vigilance is key.

“If some of the biggest names in the world of politics, showbiz and business can be used in an attempted hijack, then, really anything is possible. Lessons need to be learned.

“However, let us not close our minds to the fact that bitcoin was used as a ‘ransom note’ on a digital social media platform.

“Is it really any different to criminals handing a note over the counter of a bank or post office demanding the contents from the safe?  As a result, the world never stopped using cash and neither will anyone stop investing in bitcoin.”

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