A group of scammers has successfully infiltrated the Twitter accounts of prominent figures in the cryptocurrency industry, resulting in the theft of nearly $1 million. Among the victims were the founder of Pudgy Penguins, the chief technology officer of OpenAI, and even the well-known crypto critic Peter Schiff.
Over the course of the past few weeks, these scammers have seized control of more than eight Twitter accounts associated with influential individuals in the crypto space. Their primary objective has been to promote phishing scams, ultimately leading to the pilfering of substantial amounts of cryptocurrency. Renowned blockchain investigator ZachXBT has confirmed that these fraudulent activities have generated illicit gains nearing the $1 million mark.
ZachXBT revealed his findings through a comprehensive Twitter thread on June 9. Within his investigation, he discovered several wallets “linked on chain,” indicating their involvement in the phishing scams propagated by the compromised accounts.
Although most of these attacks resulted from a SIM Swap, ZachXBT speculates that some accounts may have been pilfered through the utilization of a Twitter admin panel. The affected accounts belong to notable figures such as Cole Villemain, the visionary behind Pudgy Penguins; Steve Aoki, a prominent DJ and NFT collector; and Pete Rizzo, the esteemed editor of Bitcoin Magazine.
Interestingly, even the vehement cryptocurrency detractor Peter Schiff fell victim to a hacking incident, which aimed to promote a suspicious link associated with tokenized gold within the realm of Decentralized Finance.
Expressing his concerns, ZachXBT emphasized the importance of thorough investigations by Twitter Safety, as these attacks have resulted in losses nearing seven figures. He further noted that the scammers waste no time once they gain control of a Twitter account, swiftly disseminating phishing scams through tweets. Regrettably, due to sluggish response times from Twitter Support, some of these fraudulent tweets remained visible for extended periods, ranging from hours to even days.
In light of these alarming developments, the blockchain sleuth strongly advocated for the use of security keys instead of relying solely on SMS-based two-factor authentication, which proved vulnerable to the scammers’ tactics.
Over the past few weeks we have seen 8+ account takeovers connected to the same group of scammers as evident by how their addresses are linked on-chain.— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) June 8, 2023
I hope @TwitterSafety investigates each attack closely as they have resulted in almost seven figures stolen. @miramurati… pic.twitter.com/ypnqyb5oNy
One of the targeted account breaches highlighted by ZachXBT involved Mira Murati, the esteemed Chief Technology Officer of OpenAI. On June 2, members of the crypto community alerted others to the presence of a phishing link shared through her account, promoting a fake airdrop for an ERC-20 token named OPENAI. This deceitful post remained active for approximately one hour, attracting a significant audience of 79,600 views and 83 retweets before its eventual removal. It is worth noting that the scammers had imposed restrictions on replies to prevent users from issuing warnings about the fraudulent content.
In late May, Arthur Madrid, the co-founder and CEO of The Sandbox, a platform within the metaverse, also fell victim to a Twitter account breach characterized by a similar modus operandi. The attackers employed the compromised account to promote a bogus airdrop for the SAND token. It remains uncertain whether this specific incident is connected to the group of hackers identified by ZachXBT.