TikTok is Becoming a Hotbed for Elon Musk Cryptocurrency Scams

Threat actors are using deepfakes of the tech billionaire to make it seem like he's promoting free crypto giveaways.

Social media platform TikTok is becoming “flooded” with Elon Musk-themed crypto scams designed to coax people into handing over their hard-earned cash, according to a new report.

Elon Musk scams have started to make the headlines more frequently since the billionaire’s tumultuous takeover of Twitter in November 2022, with digital con artists attempting to leverage the tech mogul’s success, fame, and perceived eye for a good deal to make their shady schemes look authentic.

Elon Musk Deepfakes Flood TikTok

According to a recent report authored by Bleeping Computer, streams of TikTok videos that appear to show Elon Musk talking about lucrative cryptocurrency investment opportunities are making their way around the social media platform.

The videos show Musk being interviewed by Fox News and other media outlets, overlaid with AI-generated audio designed to mimic Musk’s voice. The original audio is either heavily edited or removed completely. Similar videos have been circulating on Facebook and Instagram, with similar tactics used by some mobile games and online casino apps.

In a lot of these videos, it’s very obvious that the clip of Musk is fake – but the scammers are hoping that not everyone is paying close attention to the clips.

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How the Crypto Scam Works

The TikToks in question contain links to fake crypto websites, which encourage users to sign up and enter promotional codes posted alongside or within the videos.

If you enter one of the codes, the site will say that cryptocurrency worth thousands of dollars will shortly be deposited into your wallet.

However, the website will demand a relatively small “activation” fee in order to withdraw the money. When Bleeping Computer went along with one of the scams to see how it functioned, this fee totaled $132.

The scam will also try to obtain victims’ KYC (Know Your Customer) information, which is used to verify the legitimacy of users and perform due diligence when someone sets up an account.

How to Avoid Crypto Scams

There are some simple steps you can take to avoid online cryptocurrency scams – even when AI is making them a lot more difficult to spot.

First up, treat companies or products that claim to be endorsed by uber-rich celebrities like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos with extreme caution – even when video “evidence” is provided. This goes for any advertisement or any product you run into online.

Secondly, this specific scam uses a common tactic of withholding the “bait” – in this case, a large amount of cryptocurrency – until you send over a small amount of money. Never send money to an unknown source, and certainly not one that promises that a larger amount will be sent back.

Lastly, remember that almost all crypto giveaways are going to be completely fake – so entertaining the offers of any organization or individual claiming to be giving anything away for free is not worth the risk.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is a Lead Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol five years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs, cybersecurity, and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.
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