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Security & privacy

A Target account got hacked and stole money

We’re always warning you about cybercriminals and the sneaky tricks they use to rip us off. With all the sophisticated technology available to criminals these days, it’s getting more difficult to fend off all of the attacks.

But sometimes, crooks get lazy and simply try to exploit old scams that have had success in the past. That’s exactly what’s happening right now.

Hackers just broke into one of Target’s social media accounts and used it to spread a recently successful racket. You won’t believe how many people have fallen for it.

Criminals regurgitate old con

In recent months, criminals have been impersonating Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter. They are hacking into verified Twitter accounts of prominent companies and taking them over.

Once in control of an account, they change them to feature Musk’s name and image. Then they send a message to all of the Twitter account’s followers, claiming that Musk is giving away a huge amount of money in the form of bitcoin to everyone who responds to the Tweet.

But there’s one catch. To receive your chunk of the money, you first need to send a small amount of money to the address that is linked in the message.

Do you see where this is going? Yep, it’s a scam.

People who are falling for it send money to the scammers and never receive anything in return. Shocker! In one case a few weeks ago, scammers raked in almost $40,000 after just a few short hours of taking control of a company’s Twitter feed.

Well, that scam took a bit of a twist this week. Hackers broke into retail store Target’s official Twitter account Tuesday and posted a similar message to the Elon Musk scam.

This time, the scam was sent without the mention of Musk. Instead, the hackers posed as Target and tweeted that it is giving 5,000 bitcoin to all the community. Check out the message below to see what it looked like:

After announcing the giveaway, the crooks put in the fine print that you need to send a small payment in the form of bitcoin before receiving your cut of the giveaway. That’s supposedly to verify your address. But don’t buy it, as we said earlier it’s a scam.

Target responds

Target has confirmed that its Twitter account was taken over by hackers and that the company did not send the message offering free bitcoin. This is what the company posted on Twitter:

“Early this morning, our Twitter account was inappropriately accessed. The access lasted for approx. half an hour & one fake tweet was posted during that time about a Bitcoin scam. We have regained control of the account, are in close contact with Twitter & are investigating now.”

So the good news, if you can call it that, is the account was only breached for about half an hour. But this isn’t the first time something like this has happened and definitely won’t be the last.

That’s why you need to be vigilant at all times, keeping an eye out for scams like this. And if you ever “win” a prize or are offered free money, don’t send in money first. It’s most likely a scam.

Bonus: Want to learn more about bitcoin? Listen to our free podcast below.

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