A tweet typical of the attack sent from the account of Bill Gates, the software mogul and the world’s second-wealthiest person, promised to double all payments sent to his bitcoin address for the next 30 minutes.
“Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time,” the tweet said. “You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.”
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Similar tweets appeared on the accounts of tech executive Elon Musk, rapper Kanye West and corporations including Apple, Uber and the money transfer app Cash.
The bitcoin address linked in the tweets was quickly inundated with more than 200 instances of people sending it money, adding up to a total of $100,000.
People on Twitter called out the tweets as obvious scams before the tweets were deleted after several minutes.
Some of the accounts have huge followings. Gates has 51.1 million Twitter followers, whileMusk has 36.9 million. Apple’s account has 4.5 million.
The tweets began showing up around 3 p.m. Eastern time, and the attack appeared to be continuing on scores of Twitter accounts more than two hours later.
Twitter spokeswoman Aly Pavela said the company was looking into the issue and would have more to say later.
Cryptocurrency investors and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss said from their Twitter accounts that they believed all major Twitter accounts in the industry had been compromised and were tweeting about a fake partnership.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
David Ingram covers tech for NBC News.
Kevin Collier is a cybersecurity reporter based in New York City.
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