President Donald J. Trump has made a lot of absurd promises over the course of his career, but free cryptocurrency is still not one of them.
Though you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise, as a verified Twitter account bearing his name today offered that very thing. Yep, the ether giveaway scam we’ve come to associate with Elon Musk has branched out to our very own commander in chief.
“Good news,” read the tweet bearing the name “Donald J. Trump” alongside a Twitter verified check mark. “I decided to make the biggest crypto-giveaway in the world, for all my readers who use Bitcoin or other crypto-currencies. I’m giving 5 000 ETH and 500 BTC to all my readers.”
The — and again we can’t emphasize this enough — scam tweet then linked to directions to send the fraudsters cryptocurrency. As of the time of this writing, the linked bitcoin address had received over 17 bitcoin. At current prices, that’s more than $128,000.
While it is impossible to say if all that BTC came from victims of this particular fake Twitter account, that address is clearly controlled by scammers and thus the contents are likely to be ill-gotten.
So how could anyone be so dumb as to fall for this? Well, for starters, the fake Trump account replied to a real tweet from Donald Trump. That means this cryptocurrency “offer” appeared right below a real Trump tweet. For a less savvy internet user, seeing a blue-checkmark account that is skinned to look just like the president’s offering something immediately below a real tweet from the president might be enough to tip the scales into thinking it’s real.
Which, again, we can not emphasize enough, it is not.
Notably, Twitter is aware of this problem. It was just last week that the company took steps to prevent bad actors from pretending to be Elon Musk by auto-locking accounts that change user display names to “Elon Musk.” The social media company could theoretically put the same protections in place for the president’s account.
We reached out to Twitter for comment but received no response as of press time.
Interestingly, the “L” in the fake Trump account display name appears to be latin script, while the “P” looks to be a Cyrillic character. Perhaps this allowed the account to get past Twitter filters, but, again, we’re not sure as we haven’t heard back from the company.
We are sure of one thing, however: President Trump is not giving away cryptocurrency on Twitter. So save your digital currency for something valuable, like a CryptoKitty.
UPDATE: Aug. 1, 2018, 2 p.m. PDT: A Twitter spokesperson provided the following statement:
We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner. As part of our continuing efforts to combat spam and malicious activity on our service, we’re testing new measures to challenge accounts that use terms commonly associated with spam campaigns. We are continually refining these detections based on changes in spammy activity.