A man in Germany said he fell for a fake Elon Musk crypto scam that cost him $560,000

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A man in Germany said he fell for a fake Elon Musk crypto scam that cost him $560,000
Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • A man in Germany described losing bitcoins worth half a million dollars in a scam.
  • He told the BBC that he fell for a Twitter account posing as Elon Musk offering to double his money.
  • It is an extreme version of so-called giveaway scams, which are popular with cryptocurrency.
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A man in Germany says he lost bitcoins worth $560,000 by falling for a scammer posing as Elon Musk, the BBC reported.

The man from Cologne - whom the BBC gave a pseudonym - described giving away his fortune in the mistaken belief that Musk would double his money.

The BBC said his loss was the largest single amount recorded by a Dutch group that tracks so-called giveaway scams.

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Musk caused a stir on February 21 by tweeting, "Dojo 4 Doge," a reference to the cryptocurrency dogecoin. He often tweets his enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies - moving markets in the process.

Scammers try to profit from this enthusiasm by filling the replies to Musk's genuine tweets with posts from accounts designed to mimic his.

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The man who spoke with the BBC said he clicked on one.

The link led to a professional-looking page, the BBC reported, that described an offer in which people could send Musk bitcoins and receive twice as much in return.

The website offered to double quantities between 0.1 and 20 bitcoins - which at Tuesday's price would be worth $5,600 to $1.1 million.

But the page's authors had nothing to do with Musk.

The BBC did not specify which website ran the scam, but an example can be seen here on a now-deleted page on Medium - a blogging site that allows anyone to publish professional-looking pages:

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A man in Germany said he fell for a fake Elon Musk crypto scam that cost him $560,000
A screenshot of a now-deleted page claiming to be giving away bitcoin from Elon Musk.Medium
A man in Germany said he fell for a fake Elon Musk crypto scam that cost him $560,000
A screenshot of a now-deleted page claiming to be giving away bitcoin from Elon Musk.Medium

The BBC said a ticking timer added a sense of urgency to the man's decision. He opted to send his full holding of 10 bitcoins for the offer, the BBC reported. Exchanged for dollars, they would be worth $560,000.

The man told the BBC he was thinking, "This is definitely real."

He said he realized his mistake when the timer counted down and no money came.

"I went upstairs and sat on the edge of the bed to tell my wife," he told the BBC. "I woke her up and told her that I'd made a big mistake, a really big mistake."

Cryptocurrency scams have soared in recent years, with little recourse for those who are duped. In 2019 alone, scammers took $4.6 billion from crypto traders, Insider's Sophia Ankel and Prabhjote Gill reported.

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Fake cryptocurrency giveaways often target social-media accounts of high-profile figures, either hacking into their account and tweeting on their behalf or disguising another account to look official.

It's not the first time Musk - a well-known cryptocurrency enthusiast - has been used to give cover to a scam.

In July 2020, hackers managed to take over the Twitter accounts of people including Musk, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Apple, and Kim Kardashian, posting similar giveaway scams.

A man in Germany said he fell for a fake Elon Musk crypto scam that cost him $560,000
A screenshot of Bill Gates' hacked Twitter account in July 2020.Twitter
A man in Germany said he fell for a fake Elon Musk crypto scam that cost him $560,000
A screenshot of Elon Musk's hacked Twitter account in July 2020.Twitter
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