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Decrypt the Deepfake Video of Elon Musk Endorsing a Crypto Scam That Went Viral

In brief

  • Crypto scams keep popping up on Twitter.
  • The latest features a deepfake of Elon Musk telling people to plug their cash into an illegitimate trading platform.
  • The Tesla CEO was quick to warn on Twitter that the video wasn’t real.

A video featuring an Elon Musk deepfake promising huge returns to invest in a dodgy cryptocurrency scheme has gone viral. 

The video features a phony Musk talking about a “new investment project” that people should put their money in to make “30% dividends every day for the rest of their life.” 

A deepfake is an increasingly common form of video made by artificial intelligence that creates images of false events. In this case, the deepfake edits previous footage of the world’s richest man and makes it seem like he is saying something he isn’t. The scam was put out by BitVex, a fake trading platform. 

This particular video isn’t too convincing, though, as Musk’s voice is robotic and it is difficult to catch exactly what he is saying. The Tesla CEO, who also runs aerospace company SpaceX, was quick to say on Twitter that the video wasn’t real. “Yikes. Def not me,” he tweeted.

Billy Markus, the co-founder of Dogecoin, also chimed in about how bad the deepfake was. “Someone stupid enough to invest in that deserves to lose their money, but at the same time the scammers deserve to spend their life in jail,” he commented. 

“L​ike literally anyone watching that and thinking it’s real would lose their money to anything,” he added. 

Dogecoin is the eleventh biggest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of $11 billion, and one Elon Musk has repeatedly talked about on Twitter. Musk spent much of 2020 and 2021 pumping the coin—which was originally invented as a joke—causing its price to skyrocket. 

Critics say the crypto asset, the original “meme coin,” doesn’t have any real utility, but developers are currently working on making it useful for payments. Another billionaire, Mark Cuban, has been pushing for Dogecoin to be used as a payment method for over a year. Cuban’s NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, began accepting DOGE for merchandise and tickets in March 2021.

Scams in the crypto world are ubiquitous—especially ones on Twitter promising huge returns. In March, a phishing scam hacked verified accounts to steal over $1 million in a fake airdrop of ApeCoin, the native token of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection. 

And in 2020, scammers hacked high-profile tweeters’ accounts—including Musk’s—to promote a Bitcoin scam.

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VIDEO: Scam ad using Elon Musk's face and deepfake tech
Matt Novak


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