How Telegram CEO Pavel Durov’s identity was used in a giveaway scam
A group of scammers hacked and hijacked a verified Twitter account and cloned it to look exactly like Telegram CEO, Pavel Durov’s, to propagate their scheme in the early hours of Saturday, 28th of April.
Here’s what happened;
On 29th of April, under Pavel Durov’s official handle, the CEO of Telegram, tweeted to his 1.52M followers about a cluster over-heating issue that Telegram was facing and how that would affect their European users.
Massive overheating in one of the Telegram server clusters may cause some connection issues for European users within the next couple of hours. Apologies for the inconvenience – the problem is being solved.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) April 28, 2018
The tweet was straightforward and informative but managed to catch the eye of a group of scamsters. Who then hacked into and hijacked a fairly unknown Swedish band’s verified Twitter account, cloned it to look like Durov’s and commented on the thread that in return for their support the company was giving away BTC and ETH.
The account that the scamsters chose to hijack was a verified account and the rationale behind it was most definitely to leverage the credibility that a Twitter verified account has to make their ‘giveaway’ seem legit.
The scam giveaway was offering a pot of 1000 BTC and 5000 ETH in exchange for their support to Telegram during their server crisis. The announcement contained two links that were supposedly linking to the wallet in which they were stored.
While most of Durov’s real account’s followers were quick to call the scam out on the thread itself, a handful of people did fall into the trap and cumulatively ended up losing 1 BTC.
Following the expose of the scam, there is a lot of concern over how a verified Twitter account could be hacked, hijacked and used to propagate such scams. However, it appears that the account was not hacked solely for this purpose, but has been compromised for a while now. The last time something about music was posted on the band’s page was 3rd of April and since there are only retweets of crypto market’s bigwigs.
Incidentally, this is not Pavel Durov and Telegram’s first bad experience with scammers on Twitter. Sometime back a scamster managed to convince people, as Durov, to give away their crypto assets and syphoned off funds to the tune of $60,000 in ETH. However, the reason this particular hijack is surprising and unique is that this is the first time a scam has been propagated through a Twitter verified account.
The entire world is on Twitter and Twitter is the home to all big announcements worldwide and across industries. So it is no surprise that the world’s scamsters and frauds are on it too. It is for the users to understand that some things are just too good to be true and learn how not to interact with such schemes.
Many followers of famous and influential people fall prey to scams such as this because of the handle name alone and this is just one more in a million that have already happened in the past.