Social media is filled with countless scammers trying to capitalize on Elon Musk’s name. Just take a look under any of Musk’s tweets and you’ll see people promising crypto giveaways, which are actually just scams that siphon money away from users. But does anyone actually fall for these? Yes, they really do. And I’ve obtained the stories to prove it.
I often file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the FTC to learn about different complaints that consumers have with particular companies. Previously I’ve done this with FTX, Tinder and Canon just to name a few. It’s an interesting way to learn about customer service problems. But when I recently filed a FOIA request for complaints about Tesla, I received some documents that I didn’t expect.
Many of the complaints were about Tesla, of course, and issues people were having with their cars, warranties and financing. But consumers were also complaining about scams on social media where the con artists were using the Tesla brand and Elon Musk’s name to rip people off. And there were way more of these stories than I ever would’ve expected.
The complaints almost all involved crypto coins like Ethereum
Some of the scams involved cryptocurrencies with names like Mini Tesla and Tesla Token, while other scams had URLs involving space exploration and seemed to capitalize on Musk’s desire to send humans to Mars with his company SpaceX. One of the complaints even involved a person who claimed to work for Tesla, though I wasn’t able to confirm whether that was true, given the nature of the FTC’s redactions of the documents to protect the privacy of users.
It seems many of the people learned a lesson to not invest in sketchy cryptocurrency online. But some of the complaints are heartbreaking precisely because it seems they didn’t learn their lesson. In one example, someone explains they were fleeced out of money because they read that Musk had started a new cryptocurrency token, but it turned out to be a scam.
“They were running a token pre-sale for Tesla, I was interested. But I didn’t allow myself enough time to do my research on them before investing into what I thought was an actual pre-sale of a new Tesla token,” the complaint reads.
But the complaint to the FTC didn’t end there. The next sentence is the truly heartbreaking part.
“Elon did in fact release a new token, but the one I purchased was not the legit token,” the complaint continued.
To be clear, Musk has never released his own cryptocurrency token. Musk has been public about his investments in crypto like Bitcoin and Dogecoin. But if this anonymous person invested in another token purporting to be officially associated with Musk in some way, they got scammed again.
Many of the complaints are incredibly detailed, with explanations for how much money each person lost. But others are just one line of warning issued to the FTC, often with a URL or social media handle of where the person presumably got scammed.
The complaints have been redacted by the FTC to protect the privacy of the people who got scammed and I’ve made additional redactions in some instances to not give out the URLs of scammers, which runs the risk of legitimizing their scams in search engines. Most of the websites in the complaints have been pulled offline already but there’s always the chance they could be rebooted if the scammers notice a flurry of traffic. But searches on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine have allowed me to verify that these URLS were indeed in existence over the past two years, sometimes with terrible spelling and grammatical errors.
For example, in the screenshot I’ve captured below on the Wayback Machine, you can see the word “marathon” is misspelled as “maraton.”
In some cases, very minor spelling, punctuation and capitalization changes have been made to the complaints below for readability. But otherwise the complaints are just as they were received by the FTC.
Be careful out there, folks. Crypto is still the Wild West in every sense of the term. Especially when scammers try to use Elon Musk’s image to swindle people out of money.
“I transferred $1,200 in Bitcoin”
I saw an ad on Facebook for Tesla Token. Made to look like a new cryptocurrency offered by Elon Musk doing a start up offering. I transferred $1,200 in Bitcoin from my Coinbase account. I have the emails from them and if it helps, I can forward them to you. […] Yes, I would like my money back. But I would like to see them stopped and arrested more. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
“I sent 10,000 Dogecoin in the understanding he would send back 20,000 doge for my investment.”
Was watching a live feed of Elon in a meeting. He mentioned about Dogecoin going back down to 0.12 per coin before fully investing. On top of the video was a banner saying where to send your Doge to. (Presumably at the time it was Elon’s public Doge wallet address) I sent 10,000 Dogecoin in the understanding he would send back 20,000 Doge for my investment. I sent, and never received my coin in exchange. I contacted Crypto.com, and they said there was nothing they could do. I have tried to contact the blockchain website but they do not deal with public funds or wallets. I have the wallet address but that’s the only info I have at the moment. The funds were never withdrawn and I just don’t know what to do at this point. Any help would be appreciated.
“I submitted an order for 40,000 tokens”
My wife shared a Facebook event about Tesla Tokens being released which sent you to [redacted] (This is also fake now that I took the time to look). That image on the site links to [redacted] where you can buy Tesla tokens using cryptocurrency. I submitted an order for 40,000 tokens which is the equivalent of 800 USDC
. I have since removed any currency out of that wallet to deny them access. This site also has an area to fill in personal data and upload documentation like drivers license and passport.
“Elon Musk was doubling BTC”
Elon Musk was doubling BTC and stated whatever BTC sent he would double it and send it back to address my BTC came from. I sent 1 BTC from Gemini Exchange to Address provided. I sent .01 .28 from Coinbase Exchange account. I reported phishing Website to US Secret Service that night and filled out an IC3.gov report and my BTC has never been returned.
“I’m an idiot and never got anything back”
On YouTube they had a live event pretending to be Elon Musk- to go here [redacted] in exchange for double the money. [Redacted] – this is the YouTube it’s on and it continues to live stream. Says 37k are watching now and it’s all a hoax. So I sent ETH to the crypto address and of course, I’m an idiot and never got anything back. This is the crypto wallet [redacted] that I sent the money to that is scamming everyone.
“Now the site is gone and I can’t get my money back”
I saw the announcement of the sale of Tesla tokens on Instagram. I went to see the site and they were selling tokens. I opened an account and bought 300 tokens. I paid in Ethereum. Now the site is gone and I can’t get my money back.
“I obviously did not receive anything in return and am now at a loss of roughly $2,000”
I received a notification via Twitter that I had been added to Elon Musk’s CryptoCurrency Giveaway list. The scam account that was running this giveaway was named Elon Musk [redacted] with some obscure numbers at the end that I cannot remember. The account also had the same profile picture that the real Elon Musk used, as well. The instructions provided a link to [redacted]. On this website, there was a brief description of how the Tesla marketing team and Elon Musk created an exciting opportunity to further promote cryptocurrency by initiating a giveaway of Bitcoin and Ethereum. On this website, there was also a link to www.medium.com. The rules seemed very simple: you could opt for Bitcoin or Ethereum, and send a minimum amount of either one (0.025 Bitcoin or 0.5 Ethereum), and in turn, would receive double the amount that you sent, within a very short amount of time (minutes). The giveaway was advertised as first come, first serve, and would end after 5,000BTC/100,000ETH was given away. I did some quick investigating and it seemed very legit at the time, with hundreds of comments of fellow people having success and receiving their perspective amounts, with photo evidence. The website also contained the lock symbol in the web address bar at the top next to the website name, which further convinced me that it was a real giveaway. This of course sounded like a great deal to me, so I decided I wanted to partake in this giveaway. Below is my receipt of the amount of ETH I sent, along with the scammers wallet address: [redacted] I obviously did not receive anything in return and am now at a loss of roughly $2,000 USD worth of Ethereum coin. I am beyond disheartened and embarrassed for my lack of awareness and gullibility and did not think that this would or could ever happen to me. I am not sure what to do at this point and don’t know if there is any way to track down my funds to get them back. I wanted to report this in hopes that the scammer will be caught so this does not happen to anyone else.
“It was stupid of me, and I never fall for these things”
I followed the official Elon Musk account on Twitter and immediately got a notification that Elon Musk added me to a List Giveaway Marathon. I clicked the list to see what it was and it said that Elon Musk had decided to randomly choose 1,000 new followers who can participate in a big crypto giveaway. Hurry up to join at [redacted]. It was stupid of me, and I never fall for these things so maybe it was because it was late at night or the pandemic is getting to me but I fell for it. I went to the website and it said to send a small amount of Bitcoin to this BTC address and Elon Musk/Tesla would send back a multiplied amount. This was the fraudulent BTC address: [redacted] I realized quickly after I sent it that there were small typos on the website and that the Twitter handle that looked identical to Elon Musk’s official one was not him. I knew then that this was a con scam trying to con people out of Bitcoin. I just don’t want anyone else to fall for it like I stupidly did. I hope you can crack down on them.
“I saw the list was created officially from Elon Musk’s official account on Twitter”
I got a notification and Twitter said that Elon Musk has added his list (a new feature on Twitter). I entered the list and I saw the list was created officially from Elon Musk’s official account on Twitter, and that’s why I trusted it. The list cover picture was written Tesla, 5,000 BTC giveaway. This is the url [redacted]. I sent my money to this Bitcoins address.
“I have to say, it was very well orchestrated.”
I opened YouTube and immediately saw a live stream with 67,000 viewers. It was an interview with Elon Musk, Cathy Woods, Jack Dorsey, discussing crypto, and giving a secret message to send them crypto. I have to say, it was very well orchestrated. My question is, HOW did they manage to get their stream to pop up at the startup of YouTube? Those are supposed to be my trusted subscriber pages. Well, I discovered a few unknown subscriptions in my YouTube account. They also had a fake YouTube page Ark Invest.
“I understand my money is probably long gone”
I received a link to what appeared to be a news article from the Guardian website. However, when you clicked anything on the page it directed you to the Tesla Token presale website. I reviewed what I thought was a new cryptocurrency being sold and reviewed the terms and conditions etc. Everything looked legit to myself and another family member so we proceeded to get our identities and emails verified. Once that was completed we proceeded to purchase the Tesla Token. It wasn’t until I sent this to another family member that they started to find some inconsistencies with what was noted on the previous webpage that didn’t match up. For instance, the Elon Musk tweet was fabricated, and the Guardian Website was also fabricated. I went back into the Tesla Token site and reviewed the terms and conditions again and found that they were copied almost word for word from a company called TokenTax. The last thing that I noticed is that there is a countdown ticker on the page and it resets every day and moves the release date to the next day (yesterday it said the last day to buy was Jan 4th and now it says Jan 5th). I didn’t realize paying in crypto versus any other payment method was likely a scam. I understand my money is probably long gone but I would like to save some other person from potentially losing a lot more.
“I was scammed”
They said it was 5,000 giveaway which Tesla is giving people. If I send the 0.02 to 1 BTC, I will get 2 to 10 BTC. So I sent 0.0245 BTC to their account. Their account is [redacted]. I was scammed and did not know about it. What should I do? Is there any possibility to get back my BTC? Help me please.
“It wants you to send 150 in Ethereum and then you will get Tesla crypto”
Ad on Facebook to get in on a new cryptocurrency by Tesla. I should have known better and fell for it. It wants you to send 150 in Ethereum and then you will get Tesla crypto. Once you send it, it says the transaction was canceled and there is no contact info on the site.
“I bought $200 of this coin about 10 days ago but am unable to sell”
Mini Tesla is a crypto or alt coin, they are internet based but have support sites on Twitter and Telegram! Not sure if this company has been reported before!? I bought $200 of this coin about 10 days ago but am unable to sell! And reading the posts over the last few days have found that this is a big problem with mini Tesla! On their website you can see what they offer and percentages you should pay when selling! But no one can sell!! I did read one post from a guy who set the slippage to sell at 80 to sell! Yet there website states a max of 14! I have tried everything to sell this coin! All recommendations but to no avail! So what this site is doing is just taking the money and not letting you sell and wrongly advertising a product you cant make money on!! And on contact through Telegram or Twitter if you start to ask about the fees and why you cant sell there coin they shut you down and delete all chat!!!
Scammed claiming Elon Musk releasing SpaceX token. My own stupidity in not doing research first – saw this advertisement on Facebook. They asked for money to be sent to a specific wallet, then would adjust the amount on their own website. Then they offered 20 bonus for putting in more money.
“They then personify Tesla and tell gullible people that they will receive up to 5,000 BTC”
A Twitter account that goes by the handle [redacted] has been spreading videos on Twitter of a snippet of Elon Musk’s Twitter account, with a link to a Bitcoin giveaway. They then personify Tesla and tell gullible people that they will receive up to 5,000 BTC for an exchange of 0.02 – 5 BTC, so that they can verify their address. Link to website: [redacted]
“Tesla was mining tokens”
An ad popped up on Instagram while I was browsing that Tesla was mining tokens that 1TT = 1.25 USD and when I clicked on the offer, it took me to [redacted] after inputting my credentials. There I was offered to purchase a minimum of 200 TT which amounted to $250 USD. I was then offered this following ETH address to deposit my payment [redacted]. After sending the ETH equivalent of $250 USD to the ETH address, I couldn’t access the site [redacted] again with my login details. Even when I tried entering forgotten password so I can get a reset link on my mail, they said my email is not recognized on their system. Please assist me fighting this injustice.
“…as a give away by Elon Musk”
This website asked to transfer Bitcoin to multiply them as a give away by Elon Musk. This was the address b(6). I ended up transferring 0.02 Bitcoin to this address. Transaction hash [redacted]
“It was setup to look like he’s giving away cryptocurrency.”
Live Twitch stream of Elon Musk talking to some people, I suppose a video, but was made look to seem as if it’s being broadcasted live. It was setup to look like he’s giving away cryptocurrency. They ask you to send them 0.1 or more bitcoin for example and they say you will then receive the doubled amount, in this case 0.2 btc. Twitch staff shut down the broadcast rather fast, but the site the scammers run is still up [redacted]. Hope you can take some action against them, thanks.
“I invested $1,000”
I invested $1,000 on October 1, 2021, and eceived 424,201 tokens. As a token holder, each investor was to receive NFTs at the end of each calendar quarter. After not receiving tokens on or after January 1, 2022, multiple attempts have been made to contact the company regarding NFT distribution problems. As of today, responses have been received, and over the past several days Facebook and Twitter posts have been made encouraging new investors to invest in the Tesla Tokens, indicating they will receive NFTs on a quarterly basis. The purpose of this is to report a possible fraudulent scheme and prevent others from losing money.
“I thought was an actual pre-sale of a new Tesla token”
They were running a token pre-sale for Tesla, I was interested. But I didn’t allow myself enough time to do my research on them before investing into what I thought was an actual pre-sale of a new Tesla token. Elon did in fact release a new token, but the one I purchased was not the legit token. The website they used was [redacted]
“44,000 for $800 worth of Ethereum”
I thought I was purchasing Tesla Token in a pre-sale. 44,000 for $800 worth of Ethereum. Site had since shut down. The website was this [redacted]
“Said it was an $800 minimum investment”
I saw an ad for Tesla Token on Facebook and went to the site. It had Elon Musk’s name and info all over it and said it was an $800 minimum investment. I opened a MEW wallet and sent the Ethereum funds. I am not experienced in cryptocurrency but see it’s gaining popularity so figured I would give it a try. They emailed me back and forth a few times on 2/7/22 as I asked about when I can start trading and they said the pre-sale ends in 2 days. After 3 days I reached back out asking about trading and never heard back. That’s when the website disappeared. It won’t let me add the website address in the website box above as it says it’s in the wrong format, but this is the only address I have for their website that used to show my investment.
“They got my driver’s license pictures and crypto wallet address.”
Yeah have seen a news on Facebook about Elon Musk selling Tesla coins and I have clicked on the link to buy. And then I have found out it’s a scam website. They got my driver’s license pictures and crypto wallet address.
“THEN I TRIED TO STOP THE PROCESS BUT IT WAS TO LATE”
As a Tesla employee I follow the CEO of Tesla Elon Musk. I received a notification on Twitter from the account Elon Musk [redacted] about a Tesla promotion for Bitcoin. I followed the link and I was tempted to participate! In the process of authenticating I noticed that my authenticating info device was from San Francisco, while I reside in Fremont! I saw two devices trying to authenticate my credentials! THEN I TRIED TO STOP THE PROCESS BUT IT WAS TO LATE. 0.7 bitcoin had left from my Coinbase wallet!