New research by crypto analytics company, Elliptic shows that the majority of the Twitter scam proceeds originated from Asia which was where over 53% of the services used by victims were located.
After over 50 high-profile accounts were compromised, over 400 payments were made to bitcoin addresses posted on the social media profiles of popular figures and companies such as Barack Obama and Apple. A confirmed value of at least $120,000 was sent to the addresses through the use of social-engineering techniques implemented by cybercriminals.
According to Elliptic,
“Given the high-profile nature of this incident, this seems like a relatively small haul. There are similarities to the WannaCry ransomware attack, where a very powerful software exploit was used, but the way that it was monetized was relatively unsophisticated, with only $107,000 raised. The outcome achieved here might give hackers second thoughts about the use of crypto scams as a means to monetize exploits of this type.”
Hundreds of millions of followers were reached with the messages which prompted followers of the compromised accounts to send Bitcoin to specific Bitcoin accounts in return for monetary gain.
Most of the payments made by victims originated from services in Asia, which amounts to $64,291. North American victims sent a total amount of $30,126 to the accounts of cybercriminals.
Almost all of the funds have been sent to 12 new addresses, where they are sitting. The addresses are being monitored closely.
“The hacker now faces a dilemma – how to launder and cash-out the bitcoins, while their every move is scrutinized on the blockchain. Exchanges using Elliptic’s software will be alerted every time a customer deposits bitcoin that has originated from this incident.”
The FBI is leading the investigation into the scam. The organisation’s new partnerships could enable it to track criminals who use cryptocurrencies.