Unidentified hackers broke into the Twitter accounts of technology moguls, politicians, celebrities and major companies Wednesday in an apparent Bitcoin scam.
The ruse included bogus tweets from former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked. The fake tweets tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
There is no evidence that the owners of these accounts were targeted themselves. Instead, the hacks appeared designed to lure their Twitter followers into sending money to an anonymous Bitcoin account. The Biden campaign, for instance, said that Twitter’s integrity team “locked down the account within a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet.”
Obama’s office had no immediate comment.
In a tweet, Twitter noted only that it was aware of a “security incident impacting accounts on Twitter.” The San Francisco company said it is investigating and promised an update shortly. It did not reply immediately to requests for comment.
The apparently fake tweets were all quickly deleted, although The Associated Press was able to capture screenshots of several before they disappeared.
Bezos, Gates and Musk are among the 10 richest people in the world, with tens of millions of followers on Twitter. The three men are worth a combined $362 billion, according to the latest calculations by Forbes magazine.
The same bogus offer cropped up a second on Musk’s account, which has a history of sometimes befuddling tweets from the eccentric billionaire. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gates, who has become one of the world’s leading philanthropists since stepping down as Microsoft CEO, confirmed the tweet wasn’t from him. “This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing,” a spokesperson for the billionaire said in a statement.
Among the political figures targeted, the hack mostly appeared to target Democrats or other figures on the left, drawing comparisons to the 2016 campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies established that Russia engaged in coordinated attempts to interfere in those U.S. elections through social media tampering and various hacks, including targeting the various campaigns and major party organizations.