Pavel Durov is the founder of VK (the Russian social media site that dominates the social media market in Russia, and other Slavonic countries), and also founder and CEO of Telegram Messenger, which is a cloud-based instant messaging system based in London.
Late last year, Mr. Durov launched a bold financial strategy aiming to raise billion dollars for Telegram Messenger LLP. The move was to create their very own cryptocurrency, TON.
As like other cryptos, TON raised funds via Initial Coin Offering, which is based on cryptocurrency trade. In this scheme, a company produces a new virtual coin and starts selling it instead of raising money through more traditional mechanisms such as selling shares.
It worked. Mr. Durov’s initiative turned him into an established-name in the cryptocurrency world overnight; Telegram became a key player in the market and the Telegram coin (TON) became famous and sought for.
Last weekend, on April 28, Mr. Durov published a message on his Twitter account letting his followers know that overheating issues in one of Telegramś’ cluster servers were slowing communications down in Telegram Messenger but that the problem would be solved in only a couple of hours.
Massive overheating in one of the Telegram server clusters may cause some connection issues for European users within the next couple of hours. Apologies for the inconvenience – the problem is being solved.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) April 28, 2018
Then a new message was published in Mr. Durov’s account claiming that Mr. Durov was giving away 5000 ETH coins, and 1000 BTC coins as a way to thank his followers for the support Telegram enjoys.
On the next day, Cointelegraph’s BlockShow made it clear that Mr. Durov is not giving away any altcoins for free, and that users are advised to keep away from the scammers as well as the links they provided in the Tweet.
How scammers did that?
The scammers did not manage to take control of Mr. Durov’s Twitter account. What they did was to hijack somebody else’s verified account (which belonged to a Swedish musical band called Club 8), and then change all the data and pictures so that it could pass as Mr. Durov’s official account. Their whole point, as it seems, was to gain credibility for the crypto transactions they meant to carry out.
The publicity for the fake give away of both Ethereum and Bitcoins included links to a couple of websites with the BTC and ETH wallet addresses that belong to the scammers. It’s strongly suggested for users to stay away from those links and addresses, according to an alert published by Metamsk’s phishing director.
Blockshow reported that the scammers were able to get one bitcoin in about half an hour’s time.
This is not the first time that scammers use Mr. Durov’s fame and position in the cryptocurrency industry to attempt and steal coins from unsuspecting users. On 29th of last March, another group of scam artists managed to get away with almost $60,000 in ETH by taking advantage of a power outage at Telegram.
The thing that makes this scam unique is that it was all done through camouflage instead of actual hacking (at least, not by hacking Mr. Durov’s account); so they were able to pose as him by fine-tuning another account to make it look official.