Elon Musk Scams to Watch Out for and Avoid in 2024

Scams using Elon Musk's name are numerous and can be convincing. We show you how to avoid them.

Elon Musk scams are nothing new – the tech CEO has been a popular hook for scammers for over a decade now. However, the way these schemes are being carried out is ever evolving.

From YouTube videos which steal real footage of Musk, to faked articles made to look like legitimate sources, the attempts to defraud victims are becoming more and more sophisticated.

While the new hotness may be ChatGPT scams, Musk-based scams are still surprisingly popular. We take a look at some typical examples, and show how to spot them, as well as how to avoid them.

Elon Musk YouTube Crypto Scam

Musk crypto scams have been rampant on the internet for years, and yet they show no sign of abating. The ‘get rich quick’ appeal of crypto, combined with the ‘backing’ of the world’s richest man is a combo that some find hard to resist.

The Musk YouTube scams have two victims – those who are duped into giving their money away, but also high profile YouTube accounts which are hacked by scammers to host these fake Musk videos.

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Hackers identify and infiltrate established YouTube accounts with large numbers of subscribers, and change the name and logo to appear to be an official Musk-related account, often using Tesla or similar to fool viewers into believing the account is the real deal.

The scammers will then show video footage of Musk being interviewed about cryptocurrency, with instructions to follow about a giveaway. The usual pattern is to imply that Musk is willing to pay the victims double whatever cryptocurrency they pledge. There’s usually a time or number limit to instil a sense of urgency (a typical trick of all scammers).

Earlier in the year, the popular tech review channel, Linus Tech Tips, was victim to the hack, becoming locked out of its own account and spending hours trying to wrestle control of the channel back from the scammers. It’s a sign that even the most tech-savvy YouTubers can be hit.

Check out 21 ways Twitter, or X, has become worse under Musk.

Elon Musk Twitter Crypto Scam

Musk may own Twitter now, but his name has been attached to scams on the platform going back years.

One popular method used to ensnare victims it to reply to the real Musk’s Tweets, impersonating the man himself, and directing users to a crypto ‘giveaway’. With 140 million subscribers to his account, chances are high that scammers will grab a few vulnerable people this way.

When Musk took over Twitter, one of his first moves was to crack down on impersonation accounts, including those that pretended to be Musk himself. In an interview with the BBC earlier in the year, Musk suggested that there were fewer scams on his Twitter platform these days, yet evidence shows scammers are still operating, even purchasing ads and using his image to push crypto fraud offers.

Elon Musk TruthGPT Coin

WIth AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT and Bard, taking the world by storm, it stands to reason that scammers would attempt to use the buzz around them to attract new victims.

One such example, according to Texas state, which has ordered a cease and desist, is the TruthGPT crypto coin. While Musk has talked about TruthGPT in the past as his vision for a ChatGPT alternative, this particular example doesn’t not appear to be officially endorsed by Musk, despite being emblazoned with with his image. Those behind the coin claim that its value will increase ‘up to 10,000 times’.

There is no official sign of any Musk partnership with the TruthGPT coin, and the actions of Texas state against the currency sounds alarm bells.

As well as Musk scams, WhatsApp scams can be devastating to victims.

Elon Musk Spoof News Sites

It makes sense that Twitter would be home to Elon Musk scams, but one place you might not expect to find them is on legitimate news sites. Well, almost legitimate news sites.

There have been cases of scammers spoofing reputable websites, including Medium, to post articles intended to legitimize whichever scam they’re pushing.

It’s a clever, if dastardly move. It’s easy to disregard a suspicious email or Twitter link, but victims may be convinced to sign up for ‘free crypto’ of they believe it’s being reported by a genuine site.

Image sourced from malwarebytes

How to Avoid Elon Musk Scams

The Musk scams can be sophisticated, but they are just as simple to avoid as any other online scam. Follow these tips are you can be confident in dodging them:

  • Elon Musk doesn’t want to give you his money. There is no reason for him to announce huge crypto giveaways, and he never has.
  • Double check that Tweets purporting to be from Musk are actually from his account.
  • Similarly, check the URLs that claim to be official sources.
  • Antivirus software can help identify and isolate phishing emails.
  • Be very wary of any giveaways that request you send money first.
  • Don’t be sucked in by the promise of an ‘easy return’ on any investment.
  • Don’t be tempted by ‘limited time’ opportunities or a fear of missing out.

Elon Musk scams will likely continue for as long as they have already been around, but if you stay vigilant, you can make sure you don’t fall victim to them.

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Written by:
Jack is the Deputy Editor for Tech.co. He has over 15 years experience in publishing, having covered both consumer and business technology extensively, including both in print and online. Jack has also led on investigations on topical tech issues, from privacy to price gouging. He has a strong background in research-based content, working with organisations globally, and has also been a member of government advisory committees on tech matters.
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