Fake Michael Saylor Giveaway Costs Bitcoin User $179,000

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In Brief
  • A bitcoin user made a payment of $179,000 to a 'confirmed' Michael Saylor Giveaway scam.

  • Scammers also impersonate Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as well as government agencies or well-known businesses.

  • The crypto industry may be a victim of its own success, as incidents of fraud tend to be linked to the rapid growth in digital asset prices.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

A bitcoin user paid the equivalent of 3 BTC, or $179,000, to a “confirmed” giveaway scam impersonating MicroStrategy chief executive officer Michael Saylor.

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Crypto tracking tool Whale Alert reported the incident on Nov. 21. It said the theft occurred via the website mstrategy.io/bit, a “confirmed” scam platform used by con artists to impersonate Saylor.

BeInCrypto attempted to access the website but received an error message.

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The fraudsters typically pose as a celebrity, in this case Michael Saylor, before asking users to send bitcoin to a designated address. They promise to multiply the cryptocurrency that investors send – the giveaway – but make off with the money instead.

This time, a BTC user lost $179,000 to the scammers. At the time of writing, the primary bitcoin address in question received more than $4.16 million, or 72.14 BTC, in total, from 49 transactions. The current value of the address is $590,000 or 16.7 BTC.

Crypto fraud on the increase

Saylor, the CEO of MicroStrategy, has been a big supporter of cryptocurrencies. Since August last year, MicroStrategy has bought up to 114,042 BTC – the largest holding of any publicly-traded company. The holdings are worth over $6.57 billion at current market prices.

Scammers aren’t only pretending to be Saylor. They also impersonate Tesla CEO Elon Musk as well as government agencies or well-known businesses.

In the instance of Musk, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that online criminals stole more than $2 million in fake giveaways related to the influential billionaire during the six months to May 2021.

Crypto fraud has risen sharply in recent years. The industry appears to have become a victim of its own success, as incidents of fraud tend to be linked to the exponential growth in digital asset prices.

In 2020, crypto fraudsters targeted Twitter and took over high-profile accounts on the social media platform, including that of Musk. The scammers made off with over $120,000 in bitcoin from the hack.

Whale Alert says it tracks 9,214 scam websites and 92,955 fraudulent cryptocurrency addresses. To date, it has tracked over $803 million in stolen digital assets worldwide.

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Jeffrey Gogo is a versatile financial journalist based in Harare, Zimbabwe. For more than 17 years, he has written extensively on local and global financial markets; economic and company news. A climate change enthusiast, Gogo's work has appeared in Zimbabwe's biggest daily The Herald, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Bitcoin.com and several online publications. Gogo first encountered bitcoin in 2014, and began covering cryptocurrency markets in 2017.

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