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Elon Musk impersonators target Ministry of Rural Development’s verified Twitter handle

Of late, there has been a rise in similar incidents where scammers pose as celebs to trick crypto enthusiasts on social media.

The verified Twitter account of the Ministry of Rural Development under the Indian government was allegedly hacked by scammers pretending to be Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Later, the account was restored, and the Ministry in a tweet said that it was the result of a ‘technical glitch’.

On January 28, scammers took over the account, changed the name of the account from the Ministry of Rural Development to Elon Musk, according to screengrabs of the compromised account provided by the Malware Hunter Team.

Several tweets were posted in a matter of a few hours. One of the tweets, now deleted, read “Je m’aple syrup’. This was an exact copy of what Musk tweeted from his real account, and the screengrabs show, that as a result, many people fell for the tweet from the compromised MRD account. It had around 30,000 likes and 3,400 retweets. There were also a few tweets that had a link attached to them.

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With a significant chunk of India’s workforce still working from home, there has been a spurt in cyber attacks in India. As of today, India’s National Cyber Security Strategy which has been in the pipeline since 2019, has still not been finalised. The proposed strategy will have a clause for claiming cyber insurance, which could help victims of cyber attacks.

What is the Elon Musk scam that has cost victims over $2 million?

In May 2021, the Federal Trade Commission said that scammers were posing as celebrities such as Elon Musk to perpetrate cryptocurrency investment scams. By impersonating a celebrity, these scammers lure potential victims by organising giveaways with claims of multiplying any cryptocurrency that one sends their way, the FTC said.

According to The Verge, the $2 million figure was revealed in a more elaborate version of an FTC report on cryptocurrency scams. Musk’s account itself was taken over in one of the largest Twitter bitcoin scams last summer, it added. Other high-profile social media accounts that were similarly targetted belonged to—

  • Former President Barack Obama
  • President Joe Biden
  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, among others

Twitter had then told The Verge that the accounts were compromised by hackers who “successfully targeted’ employees who had access to internal systems and tools that provided access to these accounts.

Musk has gained a reputation in the cryptocurrency world with his involvement in several crypto-related projects. Hence, the scammers try to use his identity on social media more often than that of other celebs.

Jio warns users of a cyber fraud through which hackers get access to Aadhaar

Reliance Jio recently warned customers of a cyber social engineering attack wherein scamsters posing as Jio representatives try to gain access to sensitive information such as Aadhaar, bank account details, and so on.

In an email sent to users on January 4, Jio said that these scamsters posing as Jio representatives mainly try to accrue the information on the pretext of pending e-KYC (know your customer) process. Jio did not go into much detail regarding the frequency of such cases, but the fact that it forced them to issue a mass email to customers indicates that there has been quite a number of such attempts.

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Written By

Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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