Beware of Fake John McAfee and Tesla Cryptocurrency Giveaways

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A resurgence of scam campaigns that pretend to be Bitcoin and Ethereum giveaways from Tesla, Elon Musk, and John McAfee are underway. These scams rise in popularity as cryptocurrency prices increase.

BleepingComputer was told by security researcher Frost that there has been a resurgence of cryptocurrency giveaway scams being promoted on Twitter. These scams state that if a person sends between .05 to 5 Bitcoins or .5 to 50 Ethereum to the listed address, the giveaway will send them up to ten times back.

Below are two examples pretending to be from Tesla and John McAfee, which you can click on to see them in larger sizes.

Fake Tesla Cryptocurrency Giveaway
Fake Tesla Cryptocurrency Giveaway
Fake McAfeee Cryptocurrency Giveaway
Fake McAfeee Cryptocurrency Giveaway

The scam pages will show a pool of cryptocurrency with an indicator of how much cryptocurrency is left to giveaway and a live streaming list of transactions allegedly being sent to and from the cryptocurrency address.

These indicators are shown to make it look like many people are taking part in the giveaway.  This also acts as a goad to get more people to contribute to the giveaway before the available pool of free cryptocurrency runs out.

Promoted through tweets

These scams are promoted through Twitter accounts that impersonate Elon Musk, John McAfee, and other celebrities and contain a link to another site where you can learn more about the promotion or giveaway.

When going to the promoted page, you will be shown a fake Medium site promoting the giveaway. As you can see below, this fake Medium article is titled “Elon Musk – Official ETH and BTC Giveaway”. These article then contain links to the above giveaway scam pages.

To make it more convincing, the fake Medium page even includes fake comments praising how much they made from the giveaway and a fake call to action that lets you subscribe to more articles from Elon Musk.

People fall for these scams

Now before you say that nobody falls for these scams, I hate to say it, but people do.

The fake McAfee Ethereum giveaway asks users to send the cryptocurrency to the 0x5400cff7Aa5537881B305D838a951C3feC123B10 address. This address has received 4 payments to total .96 Ethereum or approximately $310 USD at today’s prices.

While the Ethereum scam is not generating a lot of revenue, the fake Tesla Bitcoin giveaway is doing much better. This giveaway asks users to send bitcoins to the address 15gvRgxdwMF5y3Kcc2X7WLpUMGW9wgyRB4, which at the time of this writing has received approximately .418 bitcoins.

This is equal to approximately $4,473.60 earned at current bitcoin prices just for setting up a fake web sites and pretending to give cryptocurrency away.

It is possible that the scammers are tipping themselves to make it seem more legitimate, but as there are no outgoing transactions back to the sender’s wallet address, it makes me believe these are people falling for the scam.

Unfortunately, as cryptocurrency prices continue to increase, we will see more scams like these and people falling for them.

The simple rule is don’t take part in cryptocurrency giveaways. You always end up the loser.


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