I began to see a large increase in the number of scammers who were trying to use photos of Elon Musk to try and sell cryptocurrency. In January, February and even March I had written about this problem. Yet Twitter continues to be awash with scams. So let’s take a look at the one I saw yesterday.
The crypto ad was purchased by a so-called “verified” user on Twitter by an account called Mr. Chips. Twitter has stopped verifying the identity of its users. Musk decided to charge $8 per month for the blue check mark, which means anyone with a few dollars can buy “verification.”
The Twitter user’s bio includes a jumble of words without spaces, which may indicate it was created in an automated fashion: “Son,husband,father,grandfather – I learn something new each day!”
The Twitter ad features a photo of Musk with his arms folded and the words “SpaceX Token Presale is Live.” Clicking on the ad brings the user to a landing page that’s made to look like a news outlet or blog. The domain itself is hosted on telegra.ph to give it the appearance of a news website such as The Telegraph in Britain. The.ph domain belongs to the Philippines.
The text of the landing page claims Elon Musk has announced the launch of a new cryptocurrency token associated with SpaceX, something that simply isn’t true.
“Breaking news for all crypto investors around the world! The visionary CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, has just announced the launch of the official SpaceX Token, and the Pre-Sale is now open for a limited time only,” the website reads.
The website explains that people can purchase the crypto for “$1.70 per token,” which it suggests is some kind of deal.
“Investing in the SpaceX Token not only offers the chance to shape the future of space exploration and blockchain technology, but also the opportunity to win incredible prizes, including a chance to visit Mars. Lucky token holders will have the chance to win prizes from Tesla, the Boring Company, and Neuralink, as well as an exclusive trip to the Red Planet,” the fake news outlet page reads.
If that all sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. There’s also a link on the landing page to direct users to an area where they can purchase the scam crypto. The website at spacexcrypto.com is arguably more polished than the fake Telegraph.
Why do we need a landingpage at all? Why doesn’t the Twitter ad simply direct to the fake SpaceX page? It could be related to the way Twitter filters ads. Twitter could blacklist ads linking to sites like spacexcrypto.com where the scam is currently located. But by directing the user first to a site like telegra.ph, or any other number of news-themed landing pages set up by the scammers, it’s harder to block the scammers.
As I mentioned, I’ve seen a lot of these scam ads this year. It’s not clear how much money Twitter may be making off these scams. Twitter has not responded to the questions that were emailed Sunday. I’ll update this article if I hear back.
Whatever you do, don’t try to buy SpaceX crypto. It’s a scam. And given how common the ads are on Twitter, it’s a scam that at least some people must be falling for.