UPDATED: On Wednesday evening, the Twitter Support account said that the hacking of several high-profile accounts was a “coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”
The account added that the investigation will continue, and “Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing.”
Multiple high-profile accounts on Twitter were hijacked by a coordinated group of cryptocurrency scammers Wednesday, including those of Kanye West, Apple, Barack Obama, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Uber, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates.
The hackers’ tweets have since been deleted from the affected accounts. A Twitter spokesperson directed an inquiry to updates from the Twitter Support account, which posted a message at 5:45 p.m. ET saying, “We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.”
The Twitter Support team subsequently said, “You may be unable to tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident.” Twitter had disabled verified accounts from tweeting temporarily.
The scams involved promises that users would double their money if they sent cash in the form of Bitcoin to a specific account. The hacked tweet from Bloomberg’s personal account, for example, said, “I am giving back to the community” and asked users to send $1,000 in Bitcoin to receive $2,000 back.
According to CNBC, the hackers’ message that was tweeted via Gates’ account read: “Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time. I am doubling all payments sent to my BTC address for the next 30 minutes. You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.”
The hacked tweet from the @Apple account was notable because it has not sent any tweets in the nearly nine years since it was created on the platform.
Almost 300 people had been duped by the scam after the bogus tweets were posted, the New York Times reported. A Bitcoin account that was linked to from the hacked tweets had received more $100,000 at the current exchange rate, according to Blockchain.com, although observers have noted that scammers sometimes seed their own accounts to appear legitimate.
“Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted. “We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
Other Twitter accounts targeted in the coordinated attack included Kim Kardashian West, Wiz Khalifa, Warren Buffett, YouTube creator MrBeast, Wendy’s and Cash App (a mobile payment service developed Dorsey-led Square), as well as @bitcoin, @coindesk, @coinbase and @binance, TechCrunch reported.
Twitter has suffered hacking attacks before, but nothing on the scope of the July 15 barrage of hijackings. In August 2019, Dorsey’s own Twitter account was compromised with the hackers tweeting racial slurs and a bomb threat before the account was secured.
Twitter shares, after closing up 3.75% Wednesday, dropped more than 3% in after-hours trading in the wake of the attack.