Elon Musk impersonators have stolen more than $2 million through crypto scams, FTC says

Elon Musk
  • Scammers impersonating Elon Musk have stolen more than $2 million in the past six months alone, according to the FTC.
  • The number of scams has risen as many attempt to cash in on the cryptocurrency buzz this year.
  • The agency said people in the age group 20 to 49 were five times more likely to report losing money to fraud.
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Crypto scammers impersonating Elon Musk have stolen more than $2 million in the past six months alone, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The activity comes amid exploding interest in crypto investing.

The FTC said the fraudulent schemes have many forms, and so-called giveaway scams are among the most common. They’re false setups supposedly sponsored by celebrities who promise to multiply or match the amount of cryptocurrency sent. Under such a scam, people send cryptocurrency directly into the scammers’ wallets.

It may not come as a surprise that the Tesla chief is among the figures being impersonated the most given his vocal opinions as a cryptocurrency enthusiast, which also seem to have market-moving effects.

Musk, one of the prominent figures in the cryptocurrency space, has, several times in the past, moved the price of dogecoin, GameStop, and Etsy, among others.

Most recently, bitcoin has been the asset caught in the middle of the billionaire’s tweeting spree. Over the weekend, Musk – the self-proclaimed Dogefather – sent the price of the cryptocurrency plunging after he seemed to have suggested that his electric vehicle company had sold its holdings, and then clarifying that Tesla, in fact, did not.

Read more: ‘Wolf of All Streets’ crypto trader Scott Melker breaks down his strategy for making money using ‘HODLing’ and 100X trade opportunities – and shares 5 under-the-radar tokens he thinks could explode

Since October 2020, nearly 7,000 people have reported losses of more than $80 million on these scams at a median loss of $1,900 – 12 times the number of reports and nearly 1,000% more in reported losses compared to the same period last year.

Another type of ploy, which topped the list as the most lucrative way to obtain cryptocurrencies, is the “investing” scam, FTC said. This typically involves impersonating a government authority or a well-known business.

“Sites use fake testimonials and cryptocurrency jargon to appear credible, but promises of enormous, guaranteed returns are simply lies,” the agency said. “But people report that, when they try to withdraw supposed profits, they are told to send even more crypto – and end up getting nothing back.”

Many told the FTC that they fed cash into bitcoin ATMs to pay fraudsters claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. Coinbase Global, a cryptocurrency exchange, is another commonly referred to business by scammers.

As for the demographic profile of those being people targetted, the agency said people in the age group 20 to 49 were five times more likely to report losing money to scams compared to older age groups.

People 50 and older were far less likely to report losing money, but on an individual basis, reported losses at an average of $3,250.

“Cryptocurrency enthusiasts congregate online to chat about their shared passion,” the agency said. “And with bitcoin’s value soaring in recent months, new investors may be eager to get in on the action.”

Cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in 2021, hitting a $2 trillion market valuation in April, just three months after it breached the $1 trillion mark. The rally is led by bitcoin, which has grown 51% year-to-date, ether at 354%, and dogecoin at around 10,300%.

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Facebook asks judge to throw out antitrust lawsuits filed by FTC and state attorneys general

mark zuckerberg congress WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves the Rayburn House Office Building after testifying before the House Financial Services Committee for six hours on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg testified about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency Libra, how his company will handle false and misleading information by political leaders during the 2020 campaign and how it handles its users’ data and privacy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
There’s a growing appetite in Congress for increased regulation of internet platforms like Facebook.

  • Facebook motioned to dismiss two antitrust suits filed against the tech giant on December 9.
  • Facebook argues the FTC does not have evidence to prove Facebook broke the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • The tech giant also said state attorneys general waited too long to file their lawsuit.
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Facebook has motioned to dismiss two lawsuits that aim to break up the tech giant.

The firm filed motions asking to dismiss lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general on December 9. The suits alleged Facebook neutralizes competitors – like by buying WhatsApp and Instagram – before they can threaten the social media giant’s dominance.

Facebook argued the suits fail to provide enough evidence that the tech giant engaged in anticompetitive practices. For instance, the social media giant does not have monopoly power over prices because it offers products for free, the motion argues.

Regarding the attorney general suit, Facebook argues the states waited too long to act, and cannot prove that Instagram and WhatsApp would have been competitors to the social media giant.

Read more: Wall Street pours cold water on the Facebook breakup party: ‘The courts won’t buy this.’

“Over the many years since the government cleared the Instagram and WhatsApp mergers, this competition has only gotten more fierce, and consumers have benefitted enormously from Facebook’s investments in these free apps,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. ” The government ignores these realities and attempts to rewrite history with its unprecedented lawsuit.”

The US has threatened to break up tech giants, including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google, for years. The Department of Justice filed an anticipated lawsuit against Google’s alleged exclusionary business deals in October.

Experts previously told Insider the suits are unlikely to lead to a break up of WhatsApp and Instagram from Facebook but will pave the way for greater tech oversight.

President Joe Biden is planning on stacking his administration with antitrust advocates as insiders expect him to strengthen tech regulation.

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Biden appoints FTC and FCC acting directors in move that signals a more aggressive approach to regulating big tech

slaugher ftc rosenworcel fcc
FTC acting director Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and FCC acting director Jessica Rosenworcel.

  • Biden picked Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Jessica Rosenworcel as acting FTC and FCC directors.
  • The two Democrats have been more aggressive regulating big tech in the past than Trump’s appointees.
  • They also favor many of Biden’s stances on issues like internet access, net neutrality, and privacy.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Joe Biden made two key agency appointments on Thursday that offer an early window into how his administration could approach regulating the tech and telecom industries.

Biden selected Democrat Rebecca Kelly Slaughter as acting director of the Federal Trade Commission and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel as acting director of the Federal Communications Commission.

Slaughter began her term at the FTC in May 2018, after being nominated by President Donald Trump. Rosenworcel was first nominated to serve on the FCC by President Barack Obama in 2012, and is the longest-serving Democratic commissioner at the agency.

The appointments signal that Biden’s administration will likely continue to get tougher on regulating tech and telecom companies, building on the Trump administration’s mix of increasing antitrust enforcement, attempts to roll back Section 230’s legal protections for internet companies, and laissez-faire approach to telecom regulations.

The outgoing FTC Chairman Joe Simons, a Trump appointee, had begun to ramp up the agency’s antitrust and consumer privacy work, opening several landmark investigations into Facebook, Amazon, Google, and even started looking at past mergers and acquisitions by big tech.

Slaughter has supported the FTC’s increasingly hard line on antitrust issues as well as privacy, but she has also argued the agency should have taken action earlier and issued harsher penalties more likely to deter companies from future law-breaking, including holding executives personally liable for their companies’ privacy violations.

Slaugher has also said that the FTC’s enforcement efforts should be “anti-racist” through ensuring markets aren’t racially discriminatory and protecting consumers from algorithmic bias.

Rosenworcel’s appointment to the FCC, however, marks an even greater departure from her predecessor, the outgoing Chairman Ajit Pai.

A former Verizon lawyer, Pai drew criticism for being overly friendly toward the companies under his agency’s purview, opposing overwhelmingly popular net neutrality rules, and doing little to improve Americans’ internet speeds or ability to access the internet in the first place.

Rosenworcel has pushed for the FCC to use its authority and resources to expand internet access, particularly to students whose lack of home internet has prevented them from keeping up in school while participating in remote learning during the pandemic – the so-called “homework gap.” She has also voiced support for net neutrality in the past, and will likely face pressure to reinstate the policy.

Slaughter and Rosenworcel will likely play a key role in any efforts to modify Section 230, which some Democrats say lets tech companies off the hook for not doing enough to disincentivize hate speech, harassment, and violence on their platforms.

The appointments aren’t final, as Biden will still need to decide whether to nominate Slaughter and Rosenworcel as permanent chairs. They will also likely face delays implementing their more ambitious plans until Biden nominates additional commissioners to break the current 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans at both agencies.

Both the FTC and FCC are led by as many as five commissioners, appointed by the president, and neither is allowed to have more than three members of one party. Biden’s appointments will need to be confirmed by the Senate, a likely prospect as Vice President Kamala Harris could break any tie between the evenly divided upper chamber.

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