The introduction of a new account verification feature on X has inadvertently created a thriving black market, according to cybersecurity researcher ZachXBT. Originally designed to prevent scammers from impersonating legitimate organizations, this feature has had unintended consequences that are now posing a significant threat to the platform.
A Change in Verification System
Previously, all verified accounts on X had blue checkmarks, indicating their legitimacy. However, the platform recently revamped the verification system. Now, blue checkmarks are reserved for account owners with an X Premium subscription who meet certain requirements. This has opened the door for scammers to exploit the system.
Under the new system, government officials, multilateral organizations, and individuals acting as government representatives are eligible for a grey checkmark. Business organizations, on the other hand, can qualify for a gold checkmark and also have the option to display a square profile picture. This tiered verification system was intended to provide a higher level of trust for users.
The Cost of Verification
To obtain and maintain a gold checkmark, organizations must pay a staggering amount of $1,000 per month. This price tag was believed to be a significant barrier for most scammers, as it would require substantial financial resources. However, it appears that scammers are willing to invest in this verification status due to the immense profits they can generate.
Despite the high cost, scammers have found a profitable niche by impersonating crypto projects and promoting fake airdrops and investments. Cybersecurity researcher ZachXBT highlighted this growing problem by identifying 12 accounts in just two days that were fraudulently using gold checkmarks to impersonate legitimate businesses.
These impersonating accounts primarily promote fake token airdrops, which can result in severe financial losses for unsuspecting users. Scammers exploit these airdrops to drain users’ wallets, gather personal information from wallet holders, and engage in other illicit activities. The scale of the problem is alarming, with these fraudulent accounts frequently raking in five-figure profits before they are even detected.
Furthermore, it has been discovered that many of these impersonating accounts are initially sold on Telegram channels before being launched on crypto Twitter. This underground market enables scammers to profit immensely from their fraudulent activities, making the initial investment in creating the account insignificant in comparison.
A Call for Urgent Action
While some of ZachXBT’s followers have offered to help get these fraudulent accounts banned, it is clear that this is merely a temporary solution. In order to maintain its position as the leading platform for businesses to connect with their customers, X’s moderation team must take immediate action to restore confidence in the verification process.
To ensure the long-term viability of the platform, X needs to implement stricter measures to prevent scammers from obtaining and misusing verification status. This could include more thorough background checks, stricter guidelines for verification eligibility, and improved user reporting mechanisms. Only through proactive and decisive action can X regain the trust of its user base and protect them from the dangers of impersonation scams.