A new cryptocurrency scam involving some heavy social intelligence and media manipulation is brewing on Twitter, and the potential victims appear to be a bunch of K-pop fans.
K-pop is a pop variant played by South Korean bands. The bands enjoy great popularity in Asia, but their fame is spreading to other continents thanks to the boom in internet streaming services.
An investigation by the Economic Times revealed that an unidentified group had likely bought thousands of accounts or created a botnet to trick hardcore fans of the K-pop band BTS into participating in fake cryptocurrency giveaways.
Crypto Scammers Want to Mess With BTS Fans
It all started when a female tweeter in India complained that she was following a cryptocurrency account without realizing it. Considering she detected no intrusion or hack, the account had most likely suddenly shifted its focus from pop to cryptocurrencies, probably because it was bought.
The user proved this hypothesis after a thorough investigation of ALL tweets from one of the scam accounts. She got BTS-related content buried within a feed of over 6000 cryptocurrency-related tweets of recent date.
According to her investigation, the situation was not isolated, and several fans began to notice similar twists.
In addition to tweeting about cryptocurrencies, the accounts invited the BTS community to follow other users with similar cryptocurrency content, claiming that they would participate in giveaways of up to $250 on average.
As in any Twitter botnet, accounts began to follow each other, retweeting the same content to generate engagement and blocking those who left any kind of negative feedback.
So strong was the campaign, that in some cases, the scammers managed to trick the Twitter algorithm into believing that the ARMY members were actually part of the crypto community.
Apparently my timeline talks about the dangers of crypto accounts so often that the Twitter algorithm has decided that I’m into crypto accounts and now all of my ads are for crypto. 🤦🏼♀️ GO AWAY!!! pic.twitter.com/PVoWKlw4DS
— ᴮᴱLaura P⁷🐥💜 (@LPishereforBTS) February 13, 2021
These campaigns are part of the standard playbook typical of many mass marketers – and scammers – looking to grow quickly. Ramani Ramachandran, CEO of Singapore-based blockchain firm ZPX told the Economic Times that social media is full of these projects.
“Giveaway projects are typically used as growth hacks where every retweet can fetch a 0.01% extra return, say 400 retweets in return for 100 extra coins. They take different formats such as simple meme competitions or follow-back initiatives on Twitter,”
Twitter is Taking Care, But There is Still a Lot of Work To Do Against Scams
Twitter is moving quickly to shut down the accounts involved in the scam. So far, they have shut down several large accounts, which has confused some followers who were unaware of what was going on.
In addition to selling accounts and bots, the scheme also involved some real BTS fanbase members. One group of accounts admitted to receiving commissions to promote these giveaways and later apologized to the community.
So far, there are no official numbers of possible victims. Still, it seems that BTS fans are winning the battle for the time being, as tweets with dubious content are on the decline.
Common Sense is the Best Defense
Scams do nothing but give a bad reputation to the cryptocurrency ecosystem. However, it only takes some common sense to notice if something isn’t right in many cases.
A strange change in behavior, a promise of cryptocurrency giveaways in exchange for personal information or previous submissions, or the promise of something too good to be true, are generally red flags for any Twitter user.
As a way to balance the scales a bit, CryptoPotato, a media outlet 100% focused on promoting cryptocurrencies as a way to build the future of finance, invites its viewers to listen to a nice BTS song.
And no, they didn’t pay us for that.