The Merge: Verified Twitter accounts impersonate Ethereum co-founder to push scams

Quick Take

  • There has been a surge in fake profiles of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin on Twitter, trying to capitalize on giveaways ahead of The Merge.
  • Buterin responded to similar bot accounts that were also doing fake giveaways with a Rickroll.

A surge of Twitter profiles impersonating Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin are trying to capitalize on attention surrounding The Merge to push scams offering huge giveaways. 

Impersonators have acquired verified Twitter accounts, before switching the name, profile picture and description to match Buterin’s — lending authenticity to the attacks. 

To spot the scam, canny Twitter users have to notice that the tweets come from a handle other than Buterin's own @VitalikButerin. In the screen grab below, for example, a user with the handle @greezbock is seen offering a chance to claim 100,000 ETH ($159 million). 

In recent days, many of these scam tweets have been posted on Twitter — the crypto industry's social network of choice — both directly and in the replies of high-profile accounts like Elon Musk.

Typically these scams work by asking Twitter users to send money with the promise of more in return — but nothing is ever paid back.

Buterin rickrolls his following

These fake accounts are pushing the same sorts of giveaways as a set of bot accounts have been doing for months. These accounts reply to popular crypto accounts with links to YouTube videos that promote the fake giveaways.

In response to one user highlighting the issue, Buterin mocked the impersonators, replying “But why is everybodyy silentFQTP on thiss???” — a common bot response to the scam posts in an attempt to amplify the message. He linked to a YouTube version of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, in an internet prank known as a Rickroll.

In a game of whack-a-mole, new fake accounts seem to pop up as quickly as others get reported. Buterin isn’t the only one to be impersonated, with Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao also favored by the perpetrators. 

The ramp-up in scams comes just hours ahead of The Merge, currently estimated to take place around 1 am ET on September 15.

For the latest news and updates about The Merge, make sure to check out our live coverage.

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