Thieves Are Impersonating Crypto Leaders in Modern Nigerian Prince Scam

  • Alex Morris
    📰 News

    No, that’s not Vitalik Buterin who’s asking you to send him’s a scam.

Thieves Are Impersonating Crypto Leaders in Modern Nigerian Prince Scam

Never send any type of money, cryptocurrency or otherwise, to somebody you don’t know. Over the past few weeks, scammers have been out in full force, impersonating leading members of the crypto and tech communities and asking for money. Neither Vitalik Buterin, nor John McAfee, nor Elon Musk or any other tech luminary is going to ask you to send them money. And none of them are going to send you money if you do.

How it works

Twitter has been scammers’ platform of choice; they create handles very similar to the names of real people, such as Buterin. Extremely close inspection will show that the username differs in some way, such as the use of an extra space or a slight misspelling. These scammers have also found ways around Twitter’s built-in filters, such as using Cyrillic characters that look like the letter “r.”

The scam works similarly each time. An imposter representing a well-known leader in the tech or crypto world sends out a tweet, or replies to one, saying they have a certain amount of Ether to give away. If you just send them 0.02 Ether, for instance, they will send 0.2 Ether back to you.

Clicking a link in the tweet will take you to a page with an Ethereum address and a faked block explorer. The fake block explorer makes it look like payments are coming in and going out. In reality, money is only being received, never sent. One such scammer has received over 40 Ether, about $35,000, from unsuspecting marks. Another scammer, impersonating Elon Musk, has succeeded in accumulating several thousand dollars worth of Ether.

Buterin responds

Vitalik Buterin tweeted in response:

“Twitter is terrible, part 629: go to this link, but with the space removed. Notice how it is not in fact my tweet.”

Buterin has warned his followers, saying not to send money to “anyone who asks you for ETH on Twitter.” Experts also suggest looking for Twitter’s verified checkmark to make sure the person whose tweets you’re reading is the person you think it is.

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