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Elon Musk loves taking everyone for a ride, be it in one of his ecologically dubious Teslas, through one of his downward spiraling SNL sketches, or on a rollercoaster ride of market manipulation and grift. But, as CNBC explained yesterday, it looks like Musk can pull off that last feat even when it’s technically not him at all.
Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission released a report detailing how con artists pretending to be Elon Musk have swindled thousands of people out of more than $2 million in cryptocurrency through various “giveaway scams” over the past six months. In these scenarios, malicious actors claiming to be the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur promise massive, rapid returns on crypto investments so long as their unsuspecting marks send funds to specified digital wallets. As you have already probably surmised, those funds never reappear... and given the whole “crypto” aspect of cryptocurrency, it’s essentially impossible to track down the culprits.
These particular scams are apparently just a drop in a much larger bucket, too. “Since October 2020, reports have skyrocketed, with nearly 7,000 people reporting losses of more than $80 million” in total, explains the FTC, with a median loss of $1900 per person. “Compared to the same period a year earlier, that’s about twelve times the number of reports and nearly 1,000% more in reported losses.”
Yeesh. It’s almost as if a multibillionaire inheritor of African emerald mine fortunes dubbing himself the Dogefather Technoking will easily attract swarms of exploitative grifters wherever the faintest hint of Musk lingers in the air.
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