Bitcoin.org appears to have been taken over to promote a giveaway scam.
The website, which has been a popular destination for those seeking information on Bitcoin — not least thanks to its domain name — now displays a pop-up asking visitors to send money to a Bitcoin address, which it says will then be doubled and sent back. The scheme is a popular approach by scammers, as once funds are sent, the transaction is final and there is no way to reclaim the money.
This particular type of giveaway scam was also used in the infamous Twitter incident in July 2020, in which multiple verified accounts with large followings were accessed to post similar fake giveaways. Graham Ivan Clark, a then-17-year-old, collaborated with two others to access a number of Twitter’s internal tools that allowed them to reset account email addresses and post the Tweets. The trio managed to attacked around $100,000 worth of bitcoin at the time.
The address involved in the Bitcoin.org giveaway scam has so far received over 0.4 bitcoin in funds. Notably, 0.4 bitcoin were sent to the transaction in one go, followed by six smaller transactions in the 0.00009 to 0.002 bitcoin range. At press time, an outgoing transaction looking to move all received funds away from the address is pending on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Bitcoin.org is owned by pseudonymous Twitter user Cobra. The domain recently became subject to legal attention following allegations of copyright infringement by the notorious Craig Wright, who has initiated multiple lawsuits over the years to ‘prove’ he is the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. As part of his pursuit, Wright has made numerous claims, such as statements that he owned — but couldn’t access — the private keys to Bitcoin addresses associated with Satoshi Nakamoto, and that he wrote the Bitcoin white paper — but also that Satoshi plagiarized him when writing the white paper.
In June of this year, a UK court had no choice but to order Bitcoin.org to remove the white paper for UK visitors as Cobra had failed to make an appearance in court.
It is currently unclear how the malicious takeover of Bitcoin.org came about. Cobra has not publicly commented on the developments.