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. The FBI said it was aware of Twitter’s security breach, but declined further comment.
In a tweet, Twitter noted 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. The security problem was severe enough for Twitter to warn that many of its more than 166 million daily users might be unable to tweet or reset their passwords while the company tried to lock things down.