Only hours after the worst terror attack on US soil since 9/11, scammers took to Twitter to defraud bitcoiners by profiteering from the killings at the Pulse Nightclub that left 49 dead and 53 injured. A fake Twitter account claiming to be the nightclub was suspended on Monday afternoon after calling for Bitcoin donations to buy bottled water and Oreo cookies.
The scammers tricked hundreds of ordinary people by using the handle @PulseOrlandoUSA, attaching the account to various hashtags associated with the tragedy, and building the account’s profile by attaching thousands of fake followers to draw attention following the attack.
The Twitter account directed people to a shortened web address to make donations, but a few savvy social-media users noticed that the web address linked to an unrelated six-month old domain desifreemovies.net that featured a fake registration address in California.
Most people arriving to the site quickly ascertained that it was a scam, mostly based on grammatical errors on a plain HTML page adorned with clearly fraudulent Amazon Prime links. The page suggested that if people had trouble with the links they should instead send Bitcoins to a specified address. According to the cryptocurrency tracking site Blockonomics, the scammers came away with just 0.04293381 bitcoins ($30 USD) before the website was shut down.
The actual Orlando Pulse Nightclub GoFundMe has raised some $3.7 million in support of the survivors and victims’ family members following the horrific attack. Disney World has announced that it will donate an additional $1 million to aid with recovery, counseling, and funeral services. The page is hosted by Equality Florida, the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.
At this hour, according to the website BitcoinWisdom, a single Bitcoin is valued at approximately $688, with the cryptocurrency seeing renewed interest from individuals seeking to sidestep national currency controls in a series of countries currently facing economic strife.