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Fake SEC tweet triggers Bitcoin surge

Cybercriminals hacked X (formerly Twitter) account of US financial authority to announce approval of Bitcoin ETF.

Antifraud action - January 12, 2024

On January 9, 2024, a cybercriminal group took control of the SEC’s X account and used it to post a tweet announcing the approval of a Bitcoin ETF. An ETF, Exchange Traded Fund, or tracker, is an investment fund that follows a stock market index.

Authorization to create an ETF for Bitcoin has been in the pipeline since the end of 2023, therefore such an announcement by the SEC was feasible and even likely. The fake headline convinced a significant number of investors, which caused the crypto to surge to 48,000 dollars (43,700 euros), its highest level in two years.

The head of the SEC, Gary Gensler, quickly denied the announcement. “The @SECGov twitter account was compromised, and an unauthorized tweet was posted. The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products,” he declared on X. The correction caused Bitcoin to fall back down to 45,000 dollars (41,000 euros), its original price. But the surge was probably enough to considerably enrich the hackers or their accomplices.

X’s security team stated on the morning of January 10 that the SEC’s account had not activated two-factor authentication. Therefore the attacker would have only needed to take control of a phone number tied to the account in order to take over.

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