04/10/2021

Scam Twitter Bots Duping Users into Making Bogus PayPal Payments

Cybercriminals are implementing Twitter bots


Cybercriminals are implementing Twitter bots that are designed to dupe unwitting Twitter users into making PayPal and Venmo payments to accounts under their control.

The scam bots appear to be activated after a legitimate user asks another for payment details, presumably finding these tweets via searches for keywords such as ‘PayPal’ and ‘Venmo’, or other online payment services.

They disguise themselves as the other user by pulling their profile image and adopting a similar-sounding username. Next, they supply them with false payment details, hoping the original tweeter will transfer payment into the account.

Twitter user ‘Skye’ (@stimmyskye) posted an online screenshot revealing how they were targeted, along with details of how the bot blocks the account that it is mimicking and, in their case, scraped the entire profile, with only an easy-to-miss underscore added at the end of the username.

“Because you’re blocked, you’ll see that there’s one reply to that question but the reply tweet won’t show up,” Sky explained. “If you see a ghost reply to a comment like that, it’s almost always a scam bot. They delete as fast as they clone your account. You won’t even know it’s happened.”

“They will delete the reply tweet,” Skye went on, “but the account itself will usually not be deleted, just change the username. So the accounts are usually not brand new, they even have followers. You need to check closely.”

PayPal and Venmo, along with other popular online payment services, are frequently used to make payments for items such as goods, like the resale of event tickets, or charity donations. This latest Twitter scam, however, highlights the real dangers of making or disclosing any form of transaction within a public platform.

Skye’s tweets, which also claimed that the scam bot issue could be months or even years old, have been positively received by the Twitter community, as shown by thousands of likes and retweets.

“A failsafe option is to ask for payment info via DM only, or request they be sent to you via DM,” Skye advised fellow Twitter users. “With DMs, either you’ve got them closed so the scam bot can’t send you any, or you’ve got them open and it’ll show as a DM request rather than just appear in your inbox.”

“It would be extremely easy to detect and prevent this behaviour, let’s hope that @TwitterSupport finally does something about it…I would like for this warning to become obsolete.”

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