FTC warns consumers not to fall for cryptocurrency scams following high-profile Twitter hacks

The Federal Trade Commission is warning people about hackers targeting social media accounts and email accounts to get people to send bitcoin, a kind of cryptocurrency or digital money.

This week, Twitter accounts for former President Barack Obama, Bill Gates and others were hacked and had messages asking people to donate cryptocurrency.

Twitter said it believes it was a coordinated attack using internal systems and tools.

“Scammers really like bitcoin because they like being paid in any form that is non-reversible,” said Christopher Leach, an attorney in the Division of Financial Practices for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC said the bitcoin scams are not only happening on social media but it’s also often coming through emails, with scammers claiming they can blackmail the victim.

“Somebody gets an email saying we’ve hacked your computer and we know that you’ve been visiting several embarrassing websites and we’re going to make that public unless you pay us X-thousand dollars in bitcoin,” Leach said.

Scammers are hoping people will pay out of fear.

They will also often claim the offer is time sensitive, making the victim think they have to act fast.

“Anything the scammer can try and do to try and turn off that little light in your head that says, ‘Uh this doesn’t seem like a good idea, or this seems fishy,’” Leach said.

Leach said if someone gets one of the suspicious messages asking for bitcoin, the person should not respond or click on any links.

It should be reported to the FTC.