Even though cryptocurrencies have proven their worth as valuable investments, people still suspect them of being only a way for money laundering. In the first days of Bitcoin, it was used on the dark web, primarily due to the freedom it gives users, but the growing crypto regulations have managed to control digital assets somewhat. Today not only do individual investors trust cryptocurrencies, but companies have also integrated digital money into their businesses as well. However, this doesn’t mean that people have stopped trying to make money off crypto in different ways than trading or investing in it.
Crypto scams started gaining popularity in 2018, a year after the Bitcoin price hit its first real value. There are many folks online who will try to steal your coins, however, some are more creative. Now you can notice many scammers impersonating famous people and promising you big returns in order to only get your money. One popular fraud you can encounter is an Elon Musk scam. No, the wealthiest man alive isn’t trying to steal your crypto, but many people are pretending to be him. Here we’ll take a closer look at this particular type of scam, explain why it’s happening, look at some examples and provide information on how to avoid it.
Why Is Someone Doing an Elon Musk Scam?
The reason behind every Elon Musk scam is his huge influence in the cryptocurrency world. More than once has he influenced the crypto market, moving the prices of all of the digital assets in both directions. When his company Tesla declared its holdings in bitcoins in 2021, and later that it’ll accept the asset as payment for their electrical cars, the price of the first crypto reached a new milestone. Shortly after, though, he took his words back, influenced by environmental concerns, and his actions, along with some other events happening at the same time, brought Bitcoin along with the whole market down.
The Doge Father
His continuous support for the meme coin Dogecoin also should be noted. He’s declared himself the “Dogefather” repeatedly, endorsing the joke cryptocurrency and often boosting its price. Often Elon Musk crypto tweets related to this digital asset have managed to skyrocket DOGE, and the entrepreneur even incorporated the currency in his business, making it possible to purchase Tesla merch with dogecoins. There was even a space mission, funded entirely in this crypto, that SpaceX had planned for the first quarter in 2022, though it’s been delayed for an indefinite period of time.
The power of Elon Musk over Dogecoin seems too big to be good to some people, so Musk and his company SpaceX recently got sued for $258 billion for creating a “crypto pyramid scheme” for Dogecoin. The trial was created due to people believing that Musk and his companies are pumping the price of DOGE which later inevitably falls, causing investors to lose money. At the time of writing, in June 2022, there’s no certainty how the trial will end, however, many don’t believe Musk is involved in any frauds with the crypto, but simply his popularity is too great not to influence the price of a volatile asset like Dogecoin, which can be moved by pretty much everything.
If you take into account the previous instances of how he moved the prices of digital assets, along with the whole market, you now won’t be surprised to see an Elon Musk scam, right? Scammers saw an opportunity and took it, Musk is very popular in the decentralized space, and using him to lure people and steal their money seems like a great idea to fraudsters, and unfortunately – a winning one.
That’s why here we’ll take a look at some popular Elon Musk scams regarding cryptocurrencies and summarize the ways people are using the wealthiest person alive’s fame to steal money from others. If you’re a crypto trader, or you just want to be more informed what’s on the internet, we suggest you keep an eye on what we’ll list next.
What Is an Elon Musk Scam Like?
There isn’t a set formula for an Elon Musk scam, however, the people doing them aren’t that creative, so they’re repeating each other’s patterns. In essence, what a scam of this type generally looks like would be a giveaway, fakely initiated by Musk, that gives free cryptocurrency (most often Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or Ethereum). Here comes the catch, though – you’ll be asked to first submit part of your crypto holdings and only then, receive the prize. Some similar Elon Musk scams also promise not to give you free cryptos but to double or triple your existing assets, should you only send them to them.
Pay now – receive later
The scams are mainly promoted through social media, though there have already been instances of email Elon Musk scams. Most scams also have websites created for their fake causes.
What Elon Musk Scams Have Happened So Far?
The Elon Musk scams about cryptocurrencies started as soon as he began talking more openly about digital assets.
The Fake Musk Bitcoin Giveaway
One of the first instances, when scammers took advantage of Musk’s fame and used his name to steal people’s crypto, is in 2020 when a fake video of Elon Musk and his company SpaceX was created on YouTube and stole over $150K, offering a fake Bitcoin giveaway.
The later scams that used Musk’s name took similar approaches, using images of him, clipping videos of him talking about cryptocurrencies, and arranging them to suit their fraud needs, as well as creating fake accounts to make their Elon Musk scam seem more realistic. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at a few instances when frauds used Elon Musk’s name in the past to steal people’s crypto.
#1 QuantumAI Elon Musk Scam
Another scam that used the billionaire, this time claiming that he’s actively taking part of the company, is the QuantumAI scam that got active in 2021 and despite the articles providing information about it, still continues today. Again, a fake presentation using Elon Musk was created, a website asks for your crypto, and fake websites were created for the scam’s purpose.
#2 Elon Musk SNL Scam
On May 8th 2021 Elon Musk hosted the American comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). At the end of his opening monologue, his mother appeared and they made a joke about Dogecoin, and later he mentioned it again in a skit. Musk called Dogecoin “a hustle” and this brought down the price of the asset after it has initially risen in value due to the hype of Musk appearing on the show.
Following this, the internet exploded with scams, pretending to be Elon Musk or SNL, giving away cryptocurrencies. Verified Twitter profiles of different people were hacked and their profile pictures and associated names were changed to either Elon Musk, Miley Cyrus – the musical guest of the episode, or SNL, and they tweeted giveaways for 5000 BTC. The accounts hackers used for the Elon Musk scam were owned by different people who were verified on the platform, meaning scammers not only took advantage of Elon Musk’s fame but also used accounts that people would trust if they didn’t read the username. However, even some new accounts without verification were used to spread out their fake giveaways to even more people.
Their strategy was to paste the links in the tweets with slashes at the beginning and the end of it, probably to make it harder for social media to track and automatically remove the fake tweets. What the tweets had people do was like and retweet the tweets from the hacked accounts and visit a specifically created website for the scam.
Another aspect of the scam was creating fake videos of Elon Musk, using clippings of his older appearances talking about cryptocurrencies and editing them to look like he was promoting the giveaway. The videos were broadcasted live on YouTube, a tactic used in early-day crypto scams, that continues to thrive today. The popularity of the videos was enhanced by the fact that before the SNL appearance, Musk himself shared a video link, for the people living outside the US to watch him on the show. That probably led people to believe the live videos were real too.
The consequences of this Elon Musk scam were reported as over $300K stolen in Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum.
#3 Elon Musk Club Email Scam
Another Elon Musk scam happened in September 2021 when scammers used his name to promote a giveaway, this time by email. The fraud called “The Elon Musk Club” or “Elon Musk Mutual Aid Fund” was initiated through spam email campaigns and didn’t include any particular description or email subject, however, they had attached an HTML file named “Get Free Bitcoin” or “Elon Musk Club”. The single line of code in the attachment redirected the users’ browsers to a webpage that promised to send 0.001 to 0.055 bitcoins to all participants in the giveaway. If users decided to go with it, they’ll be redirected through a series of pages, helping them receive their giveaway price, but at the end, asked to donate 0.001 bitcoins themselves to receive the prize. However, the addresses where users sent their donations were owned by scammers who never returned anything back to them, let alone give them prizes. In the early days of this Elon Musk Bitcoin scam, over $3K were stolen, however, it’s possible more people fell for this fraud and gave their money without receiving anything in return.
#4 Elon Musk Scams on Twitter
As already mentioned, Twitter is one of the places where you can stumble upon an Elon Musk scam very easily. Part of the reason for this is because this is Elon Musk’s favorite social media where he often takes to discuss cryptocurrencies. So far there have been different instances of scammers on Twitter who pretended to be Elon Musk and asked people for their money, in order to generate bigger returns.
One of the most recent instances of scammers using Musk’s fame on his favorite platform, was at the beginning of June 2022 when someone created fake SpaceX posts about Bitcoin and Dogecoin scams and replied to Musk’s tweets to get more exposure. Until now it hasn’t been reported if anyone fell for this scam and what are the experienced losses. However, this serves as another example of how fraudsters are using similar methods and platforms to lure people with an Elon Musk scam and try to steal their money.
Screenshot of the real Elon Musk Twitter profile. You may see many with the name Elon Musk, but the username @elonmusk is the only real account.
#5 Elon Musk Scams on YouTube & LiveStreaming
Another favorite platform of people who make Elon Musk scams is YouTube. So far this year there has been a growing number of new or hacked YouTube accounts that broadcast live edited videos of Elon Musk. Some feature real videos of him, at different events or conferences, where he’s talking about crypto but the footage is edited to suit the scam’s needs. Others, are deepfake videos – using AI to impersonate the wealthiest man alive and make their Elon Musk scam more believable.
For months there have been various ongoing scams, using footage of him to create Elon Musk scams, asking people to send their cryptocurrencies and promising to double them in return.
The scam model is hackers changing the name and picture of YouTube channels to look like Tesla channels and promoting fake content of Elon Musk talking about cryptocurrencies. The videos are usually set as live broadcasts though it’s apparent how fake they are if you spend a little time looking at them, and some even appear as ads on other videos. Many people have criticized YouTube for not acting quickly to get down the Elon Musk scam videos and avoid people losing their money, as well as Musk himself who accused the platform of slow reaction to these frauds. According to data, over $30M was made from similar frauds just this year.
The BitVex Elon Musk Scam
Since May 2022 there has been an ongoing Elon Musk scam on YouTube. The fraud uses deepfake video of Elon Musk who tells people to invest their money in a trading platform called BitVex. Musk quickly declared that it wasn’t him on his official Twitter account, however, the scam continues today.
Parts of the videos are also made from real interviews of Musk but if you look closely, you can see that what’s being said and how his mouth moves, are barely synced.
What the Elon Musk scam promotes is the launch of a trading platform for which the entrepreneur asks people to invest and promises a 30% return on their money every day within three months.
If you look for the channel of this fake trading platform, it’s still on YouTube and its only video has over 41K views, while there haven’t been any official records of losses yet, it’s certain that the fraud has reached a big amount of people.
How to Recognize and Avoid an Elon Musk Scam?
As proven here, there have been more than one occasion of Elon Musk scams, where people took advantage of his popularity and influence in the crypto sector and tried to steal others’ money, unfortunately succeeding on multiple occasions. Here we’ll summarize some ways how to recognize an Elon Musk scam so you can avoid them and keep your crypto safe.
⚠️ Elon Musk is unlikely to host a giveaway: We’ll start with the obvious – it’s highly unlikely that Elon Musk will host a giveaway in the first place, being for crypto, or whatever else. However, what’s even more unlikely is Elon Musk hosting a giveaway and asking for your money to participate in it. That’s the whole point of giving away things – it’s free, and if Musk, an impersonator, or whoever else asks you to first pay to participate for a free thing, that is a huge red flag you should consider.
⚠️ Twitter and YouTube are brewing with Elon Musk scams: Here we established that the two most frequently used platforms by scammers who impersonate Musk or use his companies, are Twitter and YouTube. That means that you should be careful and not only trust profile pictures, names, and verified symbols – you should also very carefully look at the username, the previous interactions of the account, and how real it actually looks. The chances of scammers hacking already existing accounts limits your option to also see when the account was created since they steal reputable accounts (to take advantage of the verification symbol) but some accounts are also created for the scams so you can look for that as well.
⚠️ Notice how scam sites look: Some scammers are very diligent when trying to steal your money, creating an Elon Musk scam. However, many websites that are made for frauds look very shabby, their designs are primitive and basic and it looks like someone threw together the page quickly just to serve its purpose. That may be another red flag for you. If Elon Musk was to create a charity, some kind of club, or anything else, do you think he wouldn’t hire someone to make the website look presentable?
⚠️ Scammers getting creative: Though in most cases one Elon Musk scam is similar to another, people are getting creative about how to steal your crypto. As mentioned here, it’s been done by email and now even deepfake videos of Musk are made, using artificial intelligence to generate the content they need to lie to people. As scammers take more innovative approaches, apparently investing in their frauds, you have to be even more careful when seeing similar giveaways or prize draws.
⚠️ Frequently used scam crypto: If you’re wondering what cryptocurrencies an Elon Musk scam is most likely to use, it’s Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Dogecoin. Those three cryptos are the ones Musk publicly admitted to personally own. Probably that’s why scammers pick them, to make it look more believable that it’s the wealthiest man himself promoting the giveaway. However, many new cryptocurrencies have been emerging, named after Musk or even his dog, and those may too be a scam themselves or used in a scam, so you should look out for that.
I Was a Victim of an Elon Musk Scam – What Should I Do?
If you fell for an Elon Musk scam, you’re not the only one. However, we know that’s not really a comfort, and you should try to take some action. While it’s very difficult to track scammers online, you could try contacting a cryptocurrency lawyer. Those attorneys are specializing in cryptocurrency and blockchain disputes and may be able to provide legal advice in this tricky situation. Unfortunately, in many cryptocurrency or financial scams, people have lost their money and were never able to recover them, since advanced hackers covered their traces very well. For example, in 2021 a victim of an Elon Musk scam related to bitcoins lost their home deposit. A crypto lawyer may not be able to get back your money but they may be able to consult you for further better maintenance of your digital asset funds.
Will the Elon Musk Scams Continue in the Future?
It’s likely to witness another Elon Musk scam in the future. That’s due to the popularity of the entrepreneur in the first place, but also his close connection to cryptocurrencies. That means it’s more than possible to see fake Twitter accounts, manipulated YouTube videos, spam emails, or other creative ways, that feature Musk and ask people to give him their crypto so he can generate big returns for them on it.
Please do keep in mind that most get-rich-quick schemes are just that, financial schemes to get your money and give you nothing but losses in return. It seems too good to be true that Elon Musk will give away bitcoins for free because it is – he won’t. Even if for some reason he does in the future, he won’t be asking for your money first, simply because that’s not how giving free things work. That’s why you should apply all of your critical thinking and do research every time you see something similar online, being an Elon Musk scam or other “great opportunity” that seems a little fishy.
We already know digital assets are volatile and risky. But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down and accept every risk as something normal because you may end up losing all of your money in that way. Nobody can advise you how to manage or spend your money. However, we hold the responsibility to kindly remind you not to trust any Elon Musk scam you see online before thoroughly researching what’s it really about.
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