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Twitter cracking down on cryptocurrency scammers

The company says it's aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent cryptocurrency-related accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner.

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

After a slew of reports that fans of entrepreneur Elon Musk -- and other celebrities -- had been targeted on Twitter in cryptocurrency scams, Twitter has responded by saying it's taking steps to prevent such activity from taking place.

The scam works like this: Someone creates a Twitter account, posing as a celebrity. The impersonator then asks people to send a small amount of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Ether (Ethereum) in exchange for a larger sum as part of a giveaway.

In the Elon Musk example, an impersonator would use a photo of Musk but have a username such as @elonmuskik that's slightly different from the username on Musk's real Twitter account. (Twitter recently suspended the @elonmuskik account.)

Another popular target for scammers to impersonate is Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. It got so bad that he changed his username to include, "No I'm not giving away ETH."

"We're aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner," said a Twitter spokesperson while referencing Twitter's rules on such behavior:

Any accounts engaging in the following activities may be temporarily locked or subject to permanent suspension:

  • Malware/Phishing: You may not publish or link to malicious content intended to damage or disrupt another person's browser or computer or to compromise a person's privacy. 
  • Spam: You may not use Twitter's services for the purpose of spamming anyone. Spam is generally defined on Twitter as bulk or aggressive activity that attempts to manipulate or disrupt Twitter or the experience of users on Twitter to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives.