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UK Army’s Twitter and YouTube accounts hacked to advertise crypto scams

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A screenshot of the British Army’s Twitter profile when it was hacked, via Wayback Machine. Its profile and banner pictures were modified to resemble a nonfungible token collection called “The Possessed.”

A hacker compromised the social media accounts of the British Army to push people toward cryptocurrency scams.

The military’s Twitter and YouTube profiles were taken over by the hacker, or hackers — the identity of whom just isn’t yet known — on Sunday. The Twitter account’s name was modified to “pssssd,” and its profile and banner pictures were modified to resemble a nonfungible token collection called “The Possessed.”

The Possessed’s official Twitter account warned users of a “recent verified SCAM account” impersonating the gathering of NFTs — tokens representing ownership of pieces of online content.

Earlier Sunday, the account was renamed “Bapesclan” — the name of one other NFT collection — while its banner image was modified to a cartoon ape with clown makeup on. The hacker also began retweeting posts promoting NFT giveaway schemes.

Bapesclan didn’t immediately reply to a CNBC direct message on Twitter.

The name of the U.K. military’s YouTube account, meanwhile, was modified to “Ark Invest,” the investment firm of Tesla and bitcoin bull Cathie Wood.

The hacker deleted all of the account’s videos and replaced with them with livestreams of old clips taken from a conversation with Elon Musk and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on bitcoin that was hosted by Ark in July 2021. Text was added to the livestreams directing users to crypto scam web sites.

Each accounts have since been returned to their rightful owner.

“The breach of the Army’s Twitter and YouTube accounts that occurred earlier today has been resolved and an investigation is underway,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense tweeted Monday.

“The Army takes information security extremely seriously and until their investigation is complete it could be inappropriate to comment further.”

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the British Army’s account “was compromised and has since been locked and secured.”

“The account holders have now regained access and the account is back up and running,” the spokesperson told CNBC via email.

A YouTube representative was not immediately available for comment when reached by CNBC.

Tobias Ellwood, a British Conservative lawmaker who chairs the defense committee in Parliament, said the breach “looks serious.”

“I hope the outcomes of the investigation and actions taken will likely be shared appropriately.”

It is not the primary time a high-profile social media account has been exploited by hackers to advertise crypto scams. In 2020, the Twitter accounts of Musk, President Joe Biden and various others were taken over to swindle their followers of bitcoin.

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report

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