A Glimpse Into The World Of Cyber Crime: The 2020 Twitter Bitcoin Scam As An Example

“On July 15, 2020, between 20:00 and 22:00 UTC, reportedly 130 high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised by outside parties to promote a bitcoin scam. Twitter and other media sources confirmed that the perpetrators had gained access to Twitter’s administrative tools so that they could alter the accounts themselves and post the tweets directly. They appeared to have used social engineering to gain access to the tools via Twitter employees. Three individuals were arrested by authorities on July 31, 2020 and charged with wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and unauthorized computer access related to the scam.” – Wikipedia, 2020 Twitter bitcoin scam.


1.) Introduction

2.) Their Start – Social Media Automation

3.) Moving Up In The World – Paid Ads!

4.) Skilled, But Short-Sighted

5.) The Fate of Most Cyber Criminals

6.) Conclusion

1.) Introduction

The people behind this scam have proven to be short-sighted (all scammers are), but credit where credit’s due, they are proficient in Graphic and Web Design, Marketing, and lately, hacking celebrities’ accounts.

They may be a singular internet gang or multiple scammers who copied each other.

I almost fell for it before, but just before making the transaction, I started thinking, “Why would they need me to send them money for ‘human verification.”

So I started digging.

2.) Their Start – Social Media Automation

They started by replying to viral tweets with fake accounts, then ‘boost’ the reply tweet with likes and retweets from approximately (50 – 100) of their other fake accounts.

The Twitter algorithm thinks that the reply is relevant to the original (viral) tweet and gaining approval from users, so Twitter starts showing it to more users.

I was honestly surprised that this technique was still working in 2020.

So the user goes through Twitter Reply -> http://medium.com Article -> Landing Page.

Their promotion techniques imply that they are familiar with social media automation.

3.) Moving Up In The World – Paid Ads!

They also started running paid ads (on youtube) earlier this year, then actually hacking into http://amazon.com Offical Youtube channel (448K Subscribers)! Then running a live stream that stayed up for days, and millions of people have watched it.

This Livestream was also showing up for search terms like ‘Jeff Bezos,’ ‘Amazon,’ and multiple other search terms.

Then they hacked into numerous other high profile channels and repeated the process.

4.) Skilled, But Short-Sighted

These scammers have proven to be skilled at:

  • Paid Ads
  • Social Media Automation
  • Programming (their landing pages include custom coded functionalities)
  • Hacking
  • Graphic Design,
  • Web Design (their landing pages were very well designed).

 So it is improbable that one person is running this scam.

Thinking about it, they could’ve used these same skills and effort to build a legit company, but then again, they are short-sighted, as I said before.

5.) The Fate of Most Cyber Criminals

Cybercrime, as it turns out, is a very short term activity. Most cybercriminals suffer a terrible fate.

They either:

– Spend the rest of their life behind bars, and their ill-gotten goods get sold at auction.

– Suicide.

– Drug Overdose.

– Murdered (Dispute with associates).

Let’s look at some examples:

– Hush Puppy (Raymond Abbas). Who ran a coronavirus related scam. Recently got sentenced to 20 years in prison.

– Alexandre Cazes, Founder of Alphabay, a darknet market that operated from 2014 to 2016. Made over $23 million. Committed suicide in jail at 26.

– Ross William Ulbricht, Founder of the infamous Silk Road Darknet Marketplace, operated from 2011 to 2013. Made $28.5 million. The End Result? Two life imprisonment terms plus forty years, to be served concurrently with no chance of parole.

– The same thing also with almost any darknet market (Wallstreet Market, Nightmare Market, Hansa Market, Deep Dot Web Informational Site, and many others.)

6.) Conclusion

Once we look at the victims, we start to develop a different perspective.

They tend to be middle-class people who worked hard for their money, so having it taken from them, under false pretenses, and in a deceptive manner is very unfair in exchange for nothing.