Over the weekend fraudsters took over the Twitter account of a newspaper and deleted many of its tweets to push an increasingly common scam: offering a hard-to-find PlayStation 5 console for sale on the social network.
For over a year, buying a PS5 has been difficult due to a chip shortage and increased demand, and the near-constant presence of professional resellers who buy the consoles only to sell them for a profit online. But hijacking an organization’s Twitter account in order to perpetuate a scam is an escalation.
“NEXT PERSON TO LIKE THIS TWEET AND GIVE US A DIRECT MESSAGE WE WILL SELL A #PS5 FOR RETAIL PRICE,” one tweet sent by the hijacked account reads. The Twitter account itself actually belongs to local outlet the Dallas Observer.
Do you know about any other PS5 scams? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This particular scam has some similarity to another where scammers would take over high profile, and particularly verified, accounts to then convince people to send them Bitcoin.
The fraudsters deleted the vast majority of the Dallas Observer’s tweets, and then quote tweeted a selection of other accounts that were thanking @Dallas_Observer for allegedly helping them source a PS5.
“Would Love To Give A Thanks To @Dallas_Observer For My Husband Early Christmas Gift!!! Hes Gonna Love You!!!,” one of the tweets reads.
A screenshot of the hijacked account. Image: Motherboard.
“Enjoy!” the Dallas Observer account said in response. Twitter has temporarily restricted the quoted account; a disclaimer says “there has been some unusual activity from this account.”
Motherboard direct messaged the Dallas Observer account while the fraudsters controlled it.
“What Version are you looking for? We have both the Digital and Disc in Stock,” the account wrote. “We accept any form of payment cashapp is preferred!”
A screenshot of a tweet sent by the hijacked account. Image: Motherboard.
The scammer said their username on CashApp was $sekenis. Looking up that profile on the app shows its full name is Sinalelea Sekeni and the user joined 2 weeks ago.
The Dallas Observer confirmed the account hijacking in its own brief article on Saturday.
“The Dallas Observer's Twitter account has been hacked. Despite what you might see in your Twitter feed, we are not offering sweet deals on PlayStation 5 consoles. We play on a gaming laptop and use Steam,” the paper wrote.
At the time of writing, the account’s name has changed back to Dallas Observer, but is missing the original profile picture. It has resumed tweeting Dallas Observer articles.