Hackers Use Kevin O'Leary's Twitter Account to Promote Crypto Scam

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What happened

The Twitter account for Kevin O'Leary, a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful of Shark Tank fame, @kevinolearytv, appeared to be hacked by crypto scammers Thursday. It sent out multiple now-deleted tweets about a crypto giveaway of 5,000 Bitcoin (BTC) and 15,000 Ethereum (ETH), although the accompanying image listed 5,000 ETH. The links to these giveaways prompted respondents to send their own cryptocurrency funds first to verify their wallet address.

These scams typically involve a fake Twitter account impersonating the celebrity in question. In this case, hackers were able to access O'Leary's real account and send out a series of tweets. This included a tweet saying, "My accounts was not hacked! Last night I said on TV that I was going to do a giveaway. Enjoy," as recorded by Jordan Major of Finbold in an early report on the hack.

So what

Earlier this year, crypto scam losses since 2021 hit $1 billion. Cryptocurrency scams are common, and as more people have started investing through crypto apps, fraud reports have skyrocketed. 

Crypto scams target unsuspecting people, and you could be one of them. A crypto giveaway scam, like the one in question here, is a popular type of scam designed to get people to send scammers their cryptocurrency. Scammers impersonate a celebrity online, normally choosing one associated with crypto such as O'Leary. They send messages claiming to be holding a giveaway for anyone who wants to participate. The link to the "giveaway" includes a crypto wallet address, instructions to send funds to verify your own address, and a promise that you'll get twice as much or more back.

Scammers keep all the cryptocurrency they're sent as part of the supposed address verification and never send anything back. Since cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible, the victims have no way to recover the funds they send.

Now what

If you own cryptocurrency, or you're planning to buy some, it's imperative that you know how to protect yourself. When you send your cryptocurrency to another wallet, it's gone. There's no way to dispute the transaction and get it reversed. Cryptocurrency doesn't have the safeguards of traditional financial products, like credit cards or bank accounts.

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Never send cryptocurrency to any unknown wallet addresses. Only transfer cryptocurrency to your own wallet or to someone else if you personally know the recipient. Make sure you have the correct wallet address, as well. Any mistake could result in your transfer being sent to the wrong place and lost forever.

Understand too, what you should and shouldn't be sharing about your crypto assets. You wouldn't give out a credit card number, address, and security code to a random website, nor should you be giving out details of your crypto holdings.

Remember that if your credit card gets hit with a scam, you usually have an ally in the financial institutions backing your card. That's not the case with crypto. Don't get fooled by crypto giveaways, no matter who announces them. It's OK to be skeptical, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The fact that hackers were able to share a scam through O'Leary's Twitter account is another sign of how careful you have to be.

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