$576 000 USD





"The night had been otherwise forgettable."


"[Sebastien] and his wife watched a series on Netflix, before she went to bed and left him on the sofa messing about on his phone."


"I have studied and have a good marketing job in the IT Industry. I live together with my wife and two children and we have a nice house with a garden."


"The 42-year-old says he first invested $40,000 in Bitcoin in 2017, and quickly made his money back as the value of the coins rose on the open market. He cashed out and got his initial money back, but then watched excitedly over the years as the 10 coins grew to be worth nearly 500,000 euros."


"Then he received a Twitter notification with news from Elon Musk."


"Musk caused a stir on February 21 by tweeting, "Dojo 4 Doge," a reference to the cryptocurrency dogecoin. He often tweets his enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies — moving markets in the process."


"[T]he price of bitcoin [had been] repeatedly hitting record highs, Tesla [had recently] invest[ed] $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency, and Elon Musk’s [had posted] various crypto tweets."


Sebastian told the BBC: "Musk tweeted, 'Dojo 4 Doge?' and I wondered what it meant.


"There was a link to a new event below, so I clicked on it and saw that he was giving away Bitcoin!"


"The link led to a professional-looking page, the BBC reported, that described an offer in which people could send Musk bitcoins and receive twice as much in return."


"There was a timer counting down, and the website promised participants that they could double their money."


"The competition was apparently being run by Elon Musk's Tesla team. It invited people to send anything from 0.1 Bitcoin (worth approximately £4,300) to 20 Bitcoin (approximately £860,000), and the team would send back double the amount."


"Sebastian double-checked the verification logo next to Elon Musk's name, and then tried to decide whether to send five or 10 Bitcoin.


"'Take the maximum', I thought, this is definitely real, so I sent 10 Bitcoin."


"For the next 20 minutes as the timer wound down, Sebastian waited for the prize to land in his Bitcoin wallet."


"From his house in Cologne in Germany he sat there refreshing his screen every 30 seconds."


"He saw Mr Musk send a fresh cryptic tweet and felt reassured that the giveaway was real."


But slowly the timer on the website ran down to zero, and Sebastian said: "I realised then that it was a big fake."


"I was greedy that night and it made me blind."


"I threw my head on to the sofa cushions and my heart was beating so hard. I thought I'd just thrown away the gamechanger for my family, my early retirement fund and all the upcoming holidays with my kids."


"I went upstairs and sat on the edge of the bed to tell my wife. I woke her up and told her that I'd made a big mistake, a really big mistake."


"Sebastian, who asked that the BBC didn't use his real name, didn't sleep that night."


"Instead, he spent hours emailing the scammer website and tweeting the fake Elon Musk' Twitter account to try to get some or all of his money back."


"However, he eventually began to accept the money was gone forever."


"133 miles away in Amsterdam, analysts at Whale Alert had watched in horror as Sebastian's 10 Bitcoin were transferred and then cashed out anonymously a few days later."


"The blockchain analysis company has tried to get authorities to take action against the scams for months, but says nothing is being done."


"The analysts use a public ledger that shows all movement of cryptocurrencies in real time to spot trends and track money."


"They have identified which Bitcoin addresses or wallets are operated by so-called "giveaway scammers" and have tracked the increasing amount of money they are making. Sebastian's 10 Bitcoin was the most they'd ever recorded being lost in one transaction."


"Three weeks on and Sebastian is clearly still extremely embarrassed. He starts our email conversation by insisting that he is "normally not the biggest idiot in the whole world".

A German man though he was participating in a giveaway from Elon Musk which would double his money. He clicked a link posted by an account that had Elon Musk's name with a verified checkmark and was taken to a professional website with a countdown timer for the giveaway. He sent a payment of 10 bitcoin.


The scammer cashed out the bitcoin anonymously a few days later. No funds were received or recovered.


Never fall for a time pressured offer like this. Any time that someone (even a celebrity) is rushing you into a decision quickly, back away.


Take the time to think through what is being provided. Does it make sense for someone to send you back twice as much money as you sent them? Ask others for their opinion.


Check the details of a Twitter account carefully to make sure it's the same username. Twitter accounts can often get stolen, in which case the thief can take advantage of the blue checkmark.


Check Our Framework For Safe Secure Exchange Platforms

Sources And Further Reading

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